UPDATED 6/5 2019: Sujit Choudhry Convenes Roundtable to Tackle Hungary’s and Poland’s Authoritarian Backsliding

Sujit Choudhry

UPDATE June 5th, 2019— Follow Sujit Choudhry on Medium.com for posts about upcoming events and speaking engagements, and to keep up with his writings on constitutional democracy.


Sujit Choudhry, the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, together with Michael Meyer-Resende, Democracy Reporting International; and Mattias Kumm, Center for Global Constitutionalism, WZB and NYU, will convene a roundtable on December 18, 2017. Taking place at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre, the roundtable workshop is entitled Recovering from Authoritarian Backsliding: Pathways and Prospects, and will bring together constitutional lawyers from Hungary and Poland and other European and US experts.

This roundtable assumes that the Central Eastern Europe (CEE) countries Hungary and Poland could potentially return to constitutional democracy, despite the fact that the current outlook in the two countries is not positive.


The Goals of the Roundtable

The Third Wave of democratization has led to CEE witnessing some of the most profound transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule. Most of the former Communist states of CEE joined the European Union (EU), and this resulted in an expectation that the constitutional democracies were fully consolidated, despite the difficulties the CEE countries faced by other post-authoritarian states. Also, Hungary and Poland are embedded in the EU’s legal, economic and political framework.  However, the expected consolidation was too optimistic. The two states are currently undergoing democratic deconsolidation, which in this context is also termed “authoritarian backsliding” as the two states had previously been autocracies. Since constitutional democracy is globally going through a difficult period in a diverse set of economic and geographic circumstances and looking at similar cases outside the EU could be helpful in the analysis of the situation in Hungary and Poland.

Overall, the roundtable has several aims. It hopes to enhance the understanding of the pathways of authoritarian backsliding in Hungary and Poland as well as the prospects for recovery, drawing on comparative experience both within the EU and beyond. The workshop also hopes to create a network of constitutional experts in Hungary and Poland, other European countries and the United States with to analyze and advise on these issues. It hopes to develop tools and proposals that can eventually be of use for constitutional experts, political actors as well as parties and independent institutions, NGOs and regional institutions.

During the roundtable, Sujit Choudhry and his collaborators hope to address several issues. The first is the investigation of the current state as well as causes of constitutional, legal, institutional and political affairs in Hungary and Poland. Another aim is to look into the precise causes, legal constitutional, statutory and administrative mechanisms, consequences and prospects for authoritarian backsliding globally as well as seek comparative examples – e.g. Colombia, India, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Slovakia, etc. – that could help shed some light onto events in Hungary and Poland and elsewhere. The roundtable will also discuss whether there is a way to recover from authoritarian backsliding as well as which other countries, other than Poland and Hungary, should be looked at.


About Sujit Choudhry

Sujit Choudhry is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions. He is an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law and politics whose research spans a wide variety of comparative constitutional law and politics issues. He combines a wide-ranging research agenda with in-depth field experience as an advisor to constitution building processes, including in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Yemen. He has lectured or spoken in over two dozen countries.

Choudhry is also an I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked as a constitutional advisor to emerging democracies across the world. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

Choudhry has also been a constitutional advisor for over two decades. He is expert in facilitating public dialogue sessions with civil society groups and other stakeholders, leading stakeholder consultations, performing detailed advisory work with technical experts, training civil servants and bureaucrats, engaging party leaders and parliamentarians, and drafting technical reports and memoranda in the field. To date, the Center for Constitutional Transitions has collaborated with over 50 experts from more than 25 countries. It partners with a global network of multilateral organizations, think tanks, and NGOs. Choudhry is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

Professor Choudhry’s research addresses a wide spectrum of comparative constitutional law and politics issues. This includes constitutional design as a tool to manage the transition from violent conflict to peaceful democratic politics, constitutional design in ethnically divided societies, federalism, decentralization and secession, semi-presidentialism, constitutional courts and transitional justice, official language policy, minority and group rights, bills of rights, constitutional design in the context of transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule; constitution building processes, security sector oversight and basic methodological questions in the study of comparative constitutional law. He has also written extensively on Canadian constitutional law.


Works and Publications

His publication record includes over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. He is author of several books, including The Migration of Constitutional Ideas, Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation?, The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution and Constitution Making. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law, the International Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Editorial Board of the Constitutional Court Review, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law, and is an Honorary Member of the Advisory Council of the Indian Constitutional Law Review. More information on Sujit Choudhry can be found on his personal website sujitchoudhry.com as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter (@sujit_choudhry), Instagram (@sujitchoudhry) and on Facebook.