New Democracies in Crisis?
A Comparative Constitutional Study of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia
By Paul Blokker
Routledge – 2013 – 216 pages
This book considers whether the potential of democracy following the end of the Cold War was diminished by technocratic, judicial control of politics in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe. It explores the complexities and drawbacks of modern constitutionalism by offering a comprehensive theoretical and comparative-empirical assessment of the status and role of constitutionalism in five new EU Member States.
The democratization of countries in Central and Eastern Europe has been guarded by constitutions and constitutional courts. This book examines the implications of powerful courts and rigid constitutions for the democratic engagement of citizens and the political authority of politicians. Using an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, the book analyses the historical emergence of powerful constitutional institutions in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The author argues that the democratic promise of 1989 largely lost out to a technocratic and top-down view of judicial control of politics – a state of affairs reinforced by EU accession. The current backlash in countries such as Hungary and Romania indicates that the realization of democratization to the extent initially expected might be ever more remote in some new democracies.
New Democracies in Crisis? will be of interest to students and scholars of European Union politics, democratization studies, European constitutionalism, socio-legal studies, governance and comparative politics.
'Blokker suggests a novel solution to a well-recognized set of concerns with the state of democracy in the CEE, which is more elaborate and, arguably, more convincing on a conceptual than on an experiential level. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that this book is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate over the complexities of post-communist politics.' - Bogusia Puchalska
1. Introduction: New Democracies in crisis? 2. A critique of legal constitutionalism 3. The prominence of legal constitutionalism in the new democracies 4. Rudiments of civic constitutionalism 5. Searching for civic constitutionalism: A comparative analysis 6. Constitutional democracy under strain: Europeanization and legal resentment 7. Conclusions: New democracies in crisis?
Paul Blokker is principle investigator in the research unit ‘Constitutional Politics in Post-Westphalian Europe’ (CoPolis) at the University of Trento, Italy.