Author: Iván Halász
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The Visegrad Group, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, which forms the core of Central and Eastern Europe once more became constitutional and democratic states as a result of the changes of 1989. The global economic and financial crisis that began in 2008 has naturally shaken up the Central European region, but the intensity of its impact varied from country to country. The period between 2008 and 2010 hit Hungary the hardest, which led to the landslide political transformation of 2010. However, the economic and financial crisis that began in 2008 did not in itself lead to a new wave of constitutional legislation in Central Europe. The creation of a new constitutional identity in Hungary with the adoption of the Fundamental Law of 2011 has more to do with the local, specific political, social and perhaps partially legal historical conditions. At this time, the other Visegrad countries can be characterised by maintenance of the constitutional status quo or only partial amendments. It is true that in these countries the turbulence caused by the crisis has not yet lead to a single party or coalition achieving the qualified majority required for constitutional reform. The situation in Poland after 2015 is still open but the new government does not have the necessary majority for the adoption of new constitution. The constitutional amendments adopted after 2008 were only a partial reaction to the great economic and financial crisis. Rather, many amendments were reflections on structural problems that had existed previously or problems arising in the course of day-to-day politics that had not been fully considered previously or they introduced long-debated and still timely changes.

Among new trends, the protective measures applicable to natural assets and waters were introduced in the interest of future generations. These were inserted in a very forceful manner into the Hungarian and Slovakian constitutional systems during the post-crisis period. The reinforcement of such an ecological identity could be interpreted as a positive development. However, the public law documents of the region are also characterised by a certain conservative ‘revolutionary’ mood including the definition of marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman; some family law measures aimed at improving demographic conditions and the passages of the Hungarian Fundamental Law concerning a society based on work. The function of constitutional courts is also beginning to be re-evaluated in the region, mainly in Hungary and Poland.

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