Mnemonic Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Hungary and Russia

Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism, Volume 1, Issue, 1. 2020. 16-29.

14 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021

See all articles by Uladzislau Belavusau

Uladzislau Belavusau

T.M.C. Asser Institute - University of Amsterdam; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

The article examines the rise of memory laws and the wider practice of using simplistic historical narratives within constitutional law in countries with serious democratic decline. The mushrooming of memory laws in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) throughout the 2010s, which went hand-in-hand with democratic backsliding in the region, is now well documented. In particular, Hungary has recently been at the epicentre of the EU's critique for violation of the rule of law standards. Beyond the EU, Russia has been identified as the main provocateur for mnemonic propaganda and whitewashing of Stalinism, also accused of stirring up major "memory wars" in the region. While clearly memory laws (lois mémorielles) - as a specific phenomenon initially in criminal law-emerged in the Western European context almost three decades ago, the recent wave of memory laws in CEE transcend criminal legislation and have acquired a constitutional significance, which this article analyses under the heading of mnemonic constitutionalism. After setting out an analytical framework of mnemonic constitutionalism and an account of its intrinsic relationship with the rule of law, the article focuses on the two specific CEE examples of Hungary and Russia. In the last decade, both countries have promulgated-via referenda-new constitutional projects with embedded populist historical narratives therein. In Hungary, Fidesz pushed the adoption of a new Basic Law in 2010. In Russia, Putin safeguarded constitutional amendments in 2020. The article concludes that both of these projects perceive mnemonic constitutionalism not only as an ideological basis for an entire governance of historical memory but also as an ontological foundation to justify "illiberal democracies".

Keywords: Memory Laws, Mnemonic Constitutionalism, Democracy, Rule of Law, Populism, Hungary, Russia

Suggested Citation

Belavusau, Uladzislau, Mnemonic Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Hungary and Russia (2020). Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism, Volume 1, Issue, 1. 2020. 16-29., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3768037

Uladzislau Belavusau (Contact Author)

T.M.C. Asser Institute - University of Amsterdam ( email )

R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22
The Hague, 2517 JN
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.uva.nl/en/profile/b/e/u.belavusau/u.belavusau.html

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
134
Abstract Views
646
Rank
381,324
PlumX Metrics