San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
The International Forum for Democratic Studies
at the National Endowment for Democracy
cordially invites you to a presentation entitled
“The Rise and Fall of Constitutionalism in Hungary”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
with comments by
Executive Director, International Forum for Democratic Studies
Marc F. Plattner
Vice President for Research, National Endowment for Democracy
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Livestream of the event will be available here.
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The 1989 “rule of law revolution” in Hungary produced an interim constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights to citizens as well as institutional checks and balances. Since 2010 the country has been experiencing a “constitutional counter-revolution” led by the conservative nationalist political party Fidesz. After gaining a two-thirds majority in the 2010 parliamentary elections, Fidesz enacted a new constitution that entrenched its political preferences, weakened fundamental rights, and reduced checks and balances on its power. The party referred to this constitutional imposition as a “revolution of the ballot boxes,” even though voters were unaware of plans for a comprehensive constitutional change, and no consensus was sought from opposition parties. In his presentation, Gábor Halmai will explore explanations for the backsliding of democracy in Hungary, and will conclude with lessons to be learned from the recent events, as well as thoughts on the future prospects of Hungary and other post-communist countries. Christopher Walker will provide comments.
Gábor Halmai is professor of law at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, where he teaches courses on international human rights and comparative constitutional law. A visiting research scholar at Princeton University since 2011, he is the founding director of the Hungarian Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre and editor-in-chief of its human rights quarterly, Fundamentum. He has also been national director of the European Master’s Program in Human Rights and Democratization in Venice since 2003. Over the course of his distinguished career, Dr. Halmai has served as a board member of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (2007–10); vice-chair of the Hungarian National Election Commission (2006–10); and chief counselor to the president of the Hungarian Constitutional Court (1990–97). He is the author of numerous books and articles on constitutional law and human rights, including Perspectives on Global Constitutionalism: The Use of Foreign and International Law by Domestic Courts (2014). Christopher Walker is the executive director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy.