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The role of constitutional courts in the transition to democracy, with special reference to Hungary

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Chapter Summary

This chapter takes the Hungarian Constitutional Court as the starting point, but extends its observations to the role of the new constitutional court in the post-Communist states in general. The three waves of democratization in Europe did not originate among the people. In Germany and Italy, democracy was established under the tutelage of the victors (mainly the USA); the Spanish and the post-Communist changes were based on negotiations between elites not democratically legitimized. Due to the reordering of the global political scene, the post-Soviet and European post-Communist transitions received a great deal of international attention, which was extended also to the new constitutional courts. The Hungarian Constitutional Court used the concept of ‘the living law’ to extend its competence to deciding the constitutionality of the application of the law by the courts and government agencies. In Hungary everybody is entitled to file an abstract norm control.

Keywords: abstract norm control; constitutional court; democratization; German constitution; Hungary; living law; post-Communist transition



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