Roundtable: "Recovering from Authoritarian Backsliding - Pathways and Prospects"

18 December 2017

In December 2017, Tom Gerald Daly, one of the Co-Convenors of the Constitution Transformation Network, attended a Roundtable on ‘Recovering from Authoritarian Backsliding: Pathways and Prospects’ hosted by the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre, and co-organised by the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Democracy Reporting International and the Center for Global Constitutionalism, WZB.

The format for the workshop was a closed-door (invitation-only), one-day roundtable bringing together constitutional lawyers from Hungary and Poland, as well as other European and US experts.

The roundtable addressed the following sets of issues:

  • What is the current state of affairs – constitutional, legal, institutional, political – in Hungary and Poland, and what institutional constellation made this possible?
  • What are the precise causes, legal mechanisms (constitutional, statutory, administrative), consequences and prospects for authoritarian backsliding globally, and are there comparative examples (e.g. Colombia, India, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Slovakia, etc.) that can sharpen our understanding of events in Hungary and Poland and elsewhere?
  • Is there a way to recover from authoritarian backsliding? Beyond Poland and Hungary, which other countries should be looked at?

The Roundtable was a very useful way not only to gauge the current state of play in Poland and Hungary, but how we understand the role of law as a remedial tool, how constitutional and regional law interact with one another, and how different forms of law interact with politics in the search for effective tools to counter (and, in the longer term, repair) the hollowing out of democratic rule in states worldwide.