There are many different criteria that can be used to assess the state of a political regime. One, if not the most important criterion is whether the regime respects and actively protects the fundamental human rights of its subjects. Women’s rights are human rights. Women, like men, have a human right to pursue happiness. Like men, they have the right to physical and mental self-determination, to decide for themselves who and what they want to become and what kind of life they want to lead. The right to self-determination includes the right to make life-defining decisions such as choosing a partner and whether or not to have children. And a woman also exercises her freedom of self-determination when she chooses what job she wants to do or decides what to do with her free time and how to dress when she goes out. Continue reading
On 23 March 1933, an act was adopted in Nazi Germany in response to the “crisis” of the Reichstag fire to enable Hitler to issue decrees independently of the Reichstag and the presidency. Article 48 of the constitution of the Weimar Republic made this act possible. Eighty-seven years later, on 23 March 2020, the so-called ‘Enabling Act’ was put before the Hungarian Parliament. This was drafted under emergency constitutional provisions in Articles 48-54.
By the time of the “big bang” accession in 2004, when ten new member states entered the European Union, it seemed that the fate of East-Central Europe was settled. From that time forward, these states were certified as democracies in good standing. But before the first decade was out on the accession, it became painfully clear that a consolidated democracy could come unraveled. Hungary’s constitutional system began imploding shortly after 2010 and in 2015 Poland began a short, sharp slide toward autocracy. In Hungary and Poland, parties with autocratically inclined leaders were voted into power. Both Viktor Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński lied about their revolutionary ambitions before they were elected. Once in office, both began attacking judiciaries which were poised to hold them to account under the democratic constitutions they inherited. Continue reading