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From Uneasy Compromises to Democratic Partnership

The Prospects of Central European Constitutionalism

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2011
Keywords Central Europe, parliamentarism, freedom of religion, Roma people, discrimination
Authors Gábor Attila Tóth
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Central European constitutional democracies were created by the political and constitutional transition of 1989. However, 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 background of revolutionary transition. It shows that the achieved structures and rules do not prevent political communities from realizing the full promise of democracy. Second, this analysis attempts to explore how the century-old historical circumstances, the social environment, and the commonly failed practice of constitutional institutions interact. This section focuses on the constitutional features of presidential aspirations, the privileges of churches and certain ethnic tensions. 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.


Gábor Attila Tóth
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Debrecen, former senior adviser, Constitutional Court of Hungary. The author welcomes comments via email: tga818@law.unideb.hu.

    Africa is a major source of commodities and other natural resources. However, such wealth has not yet led to economic development or to increased living standards. On the contrary, Africa remains underdeveloped while other regions of the world enjoy significant, if not spectacular, success. Between 1970 and 2008, the pro-capita income of African energy-exporting countries has increased 72%, while that of African Least Developed Countries has decreased 13%, and that of remaining African countries has increased 31%; in the same period of time, the increase in pro-capita income for South Asian and East Asian low income countries has been, respectively, 236% and 223%, and that of China a staggering 1,531%.


Luca G. Castellani
Legal officer with the UNCITRAL Secretariat, Vienna, Austria. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.
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