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Who's Afraid of Constitutional Populism? Central Europe in the Broader European Context
The rise of populism is a consequence of recent globally spreading economic and political crises and subsequent growing public distrust of technocracy and expert knowledge. Populist politics draws on public anger vis-a-vis growing economic insecurity and the general failure of anti-majoritarian institutions and their expertise to address issues of social justice and equality. However, populists mainly exploit the framework of constitutional democracy without dissolving and replacing it by a different political regime. Their politics thus remains subject of political contestations and opposition challenges in free elections. Nevertheless, some populists seized the opportunity to challenge this constitutional order and transformed into full-scale autocrats by reconstituting their power, such as the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who staged a coup during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis by eliminating parliament and granting himself power to indefinitely govern by decrees.  Because Hungary is a member state of the EU, its legal and political transformation into constitutional autocracy represents a big constitutional question for the Union: “Can a dictatorial regime be a Member State of the EU?” This question needs to be addressed because of the rise of populism in other member states of the EU including countries of Central Europe. Ironically, some of them would not be able to pass the conditionality test if they applied for EU membership today.

Oct 23, 2020 10:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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