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Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:57:42 EDT by webmaster, 6516 views
Concordia University, Montreal
History/Political Science paper by Göllner, András B. (all papers)
Portrait of an Abusive Relationship. Parliamentary Sovereignty vs The Rule of Law in Hungary.
In line with this year’s conference theme of “Sovereignty and Compromise” this paper addresses the conflict between the Rule of Law and Parliamentary Sovereignty, and the challenges of achieving an acceptable compromise between the two concepts that are the foundations of modern democratic governance. It is acknowledged, that even under the best of circumstances, the relationship between parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law, is problematical. Wherever parliament is sovereign, such as the British system, or Hungary, the rule of law must be given special protection against potential abuses by parliamentary majorities. Parliamentary sovereignty must be counterbalanced by rigorous systems of public scrutiny (in and out of parliament), and must be exercised in a manner that respects the basic principles of justice and constitutionalism. This paper looks at the state of the “marriage” between parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law in Hungary, a Central European country that is a member of both the European Union and the North Atlantic Community. The author argues that in the case of Hungary, the “marriage of convenience” between parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law has broken down. It details how the government of Viktor Orbán, elected to office in 2010 and re-elected once again in April 2014, abuses the rule of law, via its supermajority in parliament. How to achieve a balance, or a compromise, how to put an end to this abusive relationship ? The paper argues that political leadership and accountability play a strategic role in the re-establishment and maintenance of the needed compromise. New mechanisms of accountability, nationally and internationally, must be put in place and followed, in order to uphold the “original marriage contract”. Without appropriate leadership and accountability, the abuse will continue, and there will be no compromise. The paper begins with a conceptual “re-boot” of the values that Europe and the North Atlantic Community claim are the cornerstones of their constitutional democracies. It then moves on and examines the salience of these values in Hungary’s political culture. The third part of the essay focuses on the political leadership of the Orbán regime vis á vis these values and the political-cultural challenges this poses for democratic governance. In the final section, the paper outlines the leadership strategy and the mechanisms of accountability that Hungary and the European Union together could implement in order to restore harmony, between the rule of law and parliamentary sovereignty.
Brief Professional Bio:
Dr. András B. Göllner is Emeritus Associate Professor of Political Science at Montreal’s Concordia University. His field of experties is political economy, political communications, Central and East European affairs. He received his Ph.D. in political economy from the London School of Economics and higher degrees in International Relations from Carleton University and the Université de Montreal. Dr. Göllner played a prominent role in Hungary, during that country’s attempt to create the foundations of democratic governance and a free market system between 1990-2010. He is the author of three books and hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and mainstream media worldwide. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences on both sides of the Atlantic.