One of the persistent fears regarding the accession countries envisions that these countries will not catch up with the prevailing practices of constitutionalism and the rule of law that allegedly constitute the common tradition of Europe. It is believed, and in many regards rightly so, that accession to the Union will push Eastern Europe towards the values and institutional settings of modernity. Given the process and political consequences of the accession, as well as for other, historical and cultural reasons, the short term modernization effects of the membership might be limited, even counterproductive. This paper discusses the impact of the current "Europeanization" on the public understanding and institutional structures of constitutional democracy in the new member states. Further, it evaluates the foreseeable impacts of the emerging European Constitution on the constitutional structures (the new checks and balances) in the new member states, except the human rights aspects of constitutionalism.
The essay analyses the fourth and fifth amendments of the Hungarian Fundamental Law with special respect to the opinion of the Venice Commission and the resolution of the European Parliament. It will be pointed out that the fourth amendment transferred several legal regulations into the Fundamental Law which were previously qualified as unconstitutional by the Hungarian Constitutional Court. The Fundamental Law contains at the same time the declaration of a fundamental right and the unconstitutional limitation of it by the latter regulation. The inconsistency is evident, therefore the Constitutional Court has to choose in the future between the contradictory constitutional regulations. A possibility to solve this dilemma could be the separation of the legal norms of the constitution as lex generalis (e.g. rule of law, human dignity) and lex specialis which could not derogate the lex generalis, and ca nnot be applied accordingly.
At the onset of the mass protests in 2010–2011, many politicians and experts suggested that Arab countries could learn from the experiences of the post-communist transition of the early 1990s. However, the geopolitical, historical, and socio-economic context of the Arab transition was different in many respects from that of the former Soviet bloc countries 20 years earlier. These differences became even more obvious five years later, in early 2016, when most Arab transition attempts ended either in a new wave of authoritarianism, or protracted bloody conflicts. Nonetheless, there are some common lessons to be learnt from the history of both transitions. They concern interrelations between the political and economic transition, the role of institutional checks and balances and the rule of law, the speed of reforms, the dangers of ethnic and sectarian conflicts, and the role of external support.
Since the start of its post-socialist transformation in 1989, Bulgaria has imported a large number of formal institutions from advanced market economies, including the EU-15. However, the adoption of EU and other international rules has not been effective due to weak enforcement and application by domestic actors such as the securities regulator, courts, and company owners/managers. The failures of corporate governance in Bulgaria until the early 2000s can be attributed to the broad institutional context (the lack of rule of law) as well as the creation of quasi-public companies as a result of the first wave of mass privatisation (1996–97). Since 2002, information disclosure and protection of shareholder rights have improved significantly. The article examines the proposition that this is partly due to the prospect of EU accession, which has certainly influenced the attitudes and expectations of domestic actors. Based on company surveys and in-depth interviews, the paper analyses how the securities regulator and company owners/managers have been adapting to the imported formal rules.
We compare the pre- and post-2010 Hungarian political regimes through the lens of pension policies. We label the pre-2010 regime as democratic populist because it was characterized by fiscally irresponsible policies, yet it maintained the system of checks and balances and the rule of law. In contrast, we call the post-2010 regime authoritarian populist as it has employed authoritarian political techniques while maintained popular legitimation through regular elections. To substantiate the difference between the two periods from an economic viewpoint, we compare pre- and post-2010 pension policies to find important differences as well as surprising similarities. In particular, we analysed the following five policy aspects: (a) reform and partial privatization of the government-run pension system, (b) policies on the statutory (normal) and the effective (average) pension age, (c) indexation, (d) progression in benefits calculations and progressivity in the personal income tax, and (e) contribution rates. Based on ideological preferences, we argue that one would expect the pension system to become financially more sustainable but less redistributive after 2010 in comparison to the preceding period. Yet, we find that although pro-poor redistribution through the pension system has indeed been curtailed, fiscal sustainability has not improved due to the erratic policies.
This paper reviews the deeper societal and economic reasons behind the British choice of leaving the European Union. We address the detailed results of the referendum and the long-standing sceptical British attitude towards European integration; next, we analyse the net budgetary contribution that changed enormously after the Eastern Enlargement. It is argued that the rise in the immigrantnative ratio had a significant impact on employee’s pay level in certain areas, therefore pro-Brexit campaigners highlighted migration as one of the major problems arising from EU membership. Increasing income and wealth inequalities and a growing anti-elite sentiment in British society, coupled with the negative image of Brussels bureaucrats and a British approach to the rule of law that is fundamentally different from the continental one, also contributed to the final result of the referendum. Our analysis ends with a glimpse into the close future, emphasising that the future of British-EU relations depends wholly on the pragmatism and wisdom of the negotiating parties.
Thepolicy of “proscription” or “designation” of groups and individuals as “terrorist” has been deployed as acrucial legal weapon in the global war on terrorism. Despite its serious humanrights implications, judicial review is excluded from this highly politicisedprocess, which has been embraced uncritically by the international communityand member states' domestic legal system. The essay aims to survey certaincontradictions within legal regimes imposed by the UN Security Council, the EUand the Hungarian Government, aimed at freezing assets and financialtransactions of terrorist organisations and organs associated withanti-democratic political regimes. It is argued that legal regimes that wouldserve the thorough implementation of anti-terrorist sanctions brought by the UNSecurity Council or the European Council are extremely underdeveloped. In otherwords, the three normative levels of sanction measures-(1) legislation passedby the UN Security Council; (2) the implementing legislation of member statesand the EU; (3) sui generis EU sanction-regulations-arenot harmonized. Even though the examples are brought from Hungary, a newEU-member state that so far has not been directly affected by terrorism,arguably the scrutinized controversies point to general Rule of Law questionsthat presumably most European states are bound to face.
As a general assumption, the presence of an independent, honest and competent judiciary in the so-called rule-of-law countries benefits both the protection of citizens’ rights and economic growth. This essay aims to give a definition of the judicial independence principle in the People’s Republic of China. To this end the author describes the general understanding of the principle within the Western legal tradition, stressing the importance of different guarantees embraced within given societies. Due consideration is given to judicial tenure and the appointment and salaries of judges.After an historical introduction this understanding is used as a yardstick to gauge the Chinese system. Not surprisingly, the Chinese judiciary cannot be yet considered independent, notwithstanding the undeniable progress made in the last decades. The subsequent explanation of the achievements of the Chinese judicial reforms are therefore instrumental in explaining that, in the Chinese context, it would be more appropriate to refer to judicial impartiality than to judicial independence. Without political reform, the Chinese judiciary will always be dependent on the legislative, in accordance with Chinese traditions and the country’s political structure. In conclusion, even if it is still not possible to use the term “judicial independence”, as understood in the West, judges’ professionalism appears to be a suitable tool for achieving a more reliable and impartial judiciary.
This article starts from the assumptions that the world can learn a lot from the empirical and theoretical debates and research results of dependency and world systems research. The European ‘political class’ seems to react more slowly to the implications of the global economic crisis. The policy package currently offered by the Commission still relies on open economies as pillar number 1 of any conceivable strategy. A rediscovery of this radical ‘dependency perspective’, first introduced by the Argentine economist Raúl Prebisch and other Latin American thinkers during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and more fully developed in the so-called Latin American ‘dependency debate’ of the late 1960s and 1970s; and the current empirical ‘world systems theory’ mean a fundamental break with the existing dominant thinking on the subject of economic and social convergence. Continuing critical perspectives, initiated by Polanyi, and developed in Hungary by Andor, Inotai and Szentes, and above all in the quantitative investigations by the Swiss sociologist Volker Bornschier and his associates, we show that on a global cross-national scale, very important indicators of the future and well-being of our continent, ranging from the famous ‘European social model’ to tertiary educational enrolment, infant mortality, rule of law, female survival rates, economic growth, inequality, unemployment, and environmental security are significantly being determined by our models, and all the explanations point in the direction of the penetration of multinational corporations (MNCs) and its growth over time as constituting a major and important development bottleneck. Our dependency approach thus re-iterates the substantial findings, proposed by the Bornschier sociological school. A thorough re-thinking of basic premises of policy-making in Europe is thus necessary. In our opinion, European policy-making finally should dare to take the globalization-critical organizations of ‘civil society’ seriously.
The Central European countries have been constitutional democracies for two decades. They were created by the political and constitutional transition of 1989, which was based upon the acknowledgment of fundamental rights and the rule of law. Timothy Garton Ash has argued that the peaceful, negotiated regime changes in Central Europe established a new model of non-violent revolution. The year 1989 became the major historical reference point for this kind of change. However, more than twenty years later, in the light of antidemocratic, authoritarian and intolerant tendencies, it is far from clear whether the negotiated revolution is a story of success or failure. This paper first outlines the constitutional and political background of revolutionary transition. It shows that uneasy compromises with members of the ancien régime were an unavoidable part of the peaceful transition. Nevertheless, the achieved constitutional structures and rules do not prevent political communities from realising the full promise of democracy. Second, this analysis attempts to explore, through the use of examples, how the century-old historical circumstances, the social environment, and the commonly failed practice of constitutional institutions interact. The goal of this section is to highlight some of the differences between universal principles and local peculiarities, focusing particularly on the constitutional features of presidential aspirations, the privileges of churches and certain ethnic tensions. The way the authorities apply the constitution is not detached from place and time, since those authorities possess culturally and historically predetermined knowledge and premises. Thus, we can say that antidemocratic, authoritarian and intolerant political and legal tendencies are embedded in the past and present of political communities. Finally, the paper argues that the chances of success of liberal democracies depend significantly on extraconstitutional factors. It seems that Hungary is in a more depressing and dangerous period of its history than for example Poland. The future of Central European constitutional democracies relies on the actions of people in the countries concerned and the commitment of Western societies.