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Constitutional negotiations: Political contexts of judicial activism in post-soviet Europe

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how and why constitutional courts have become such an important part of the political landscape in modern democratic regimes by focusing on two new constitutional courts. Since the changes of 1989 (in East Central Europe) and 1991 (in the former Soviet Union), law has changed immensely in the countries formerly governed by socialist legality. In both Hungary and Russia, strong forms of judicial activism have apparently met somewhat different fates. The first law passed by the first post-Communist parliament in Hungary extended the statute of limitations for all crimes not prosecuted in the Soviet time, for political reasons, and was named after its sponsors Zsolt Zétényi and Imre Takács. In Yeltsin’s eyes, the Russian Constitutional Court persistently sided with the Communist-controlled parliament against the reform-minded president. The court's need for delimitations comes from limitations on its powers built into the Constitutional Court Act of 1994.

Keywords: Hungarian constitutional court; Imre Takács; judicial activism; modern democratic regime; political reconstruction; post-soviet Europe; Russian Constitutional Court; Yeltsin; Zsolt Zétényi



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