The University of Exeter Law School and the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Faculty of Social Sciences are pleased to announce the call for papers for a conference to be held at the ELTE in Budapest on 23-24 June 2016 with the title of Rethinking European Constitutional Democracy - With Special Focus on the United Kingdom and Hungary
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With the economic crisis, the rise of populism and xenophobia, and the increasingly forceful questioning of human rights and constitutional justice, some of the foundations of the European Union and key pillars of European post-war democracy are being put to the test. The conference focuses on recent developments in two Member States, which — in their distinctive and respective ways — have been particularly vocal in their questioning of similarly fundamental issues, namely the UK and Hungary. The conference aims to apply reflective interdisciplinary approaches to the theories and practice of European constitutionalism. Papers can be pitched at a theoretical level, take the shape of a country-specific analysis or be based on a comparison between Hungary and the UK. The convenors particularly welcome papers that fit within the following streams.
- Maurice Adams, Professor of Democratic Governance and Rule of Law, Tilburg University
- Adam Bodnar, Ombudsman, Poland
- Rudolf Schnutz Dürr, Head of Constitutional Justice Division, Venice Commission, Council of Europe
- Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex
- Jan-Werner Müller, Professor of Politics, Princeton University (TBC)
- Karolina Wigura, Assistant Professor, Institute of Sociology, Warsaw University, Visiting Fellow, Columbia University, NY, and St. Anthony's College, University of Oxford (TBC)
1. Definition and boundaries of the political community
This topic deals with the identity of 'the people' as the theoretical foundation of political sovereignty in a democracy. Freedom of movement across the EU, waves of migration into the EU, and the multi-cultural nature of European society are leading to a profound questioning of theoretical and political connections established among a given Nation-State, its nationals, the concept of citizenship, and inclusion in the community. The absence of a European demos and a heightened sense (and claims) of national sovereignty in the face of crisis bring this issue to the fore and call for a reflection on the boundaries and identity of the political community.
2. Involvement of the demos in constitutional reforms
This stream invites contributions on the extent to, and the mechanisms through which, 'the people' ought to be included legitimately in the political decision-making process, whether at the national or EU level. While mechanisms of democratic representation are a well-established (if not perfect) component of law-making processes, the involvement (or lack thereof) of 'the people' in decision-making processes of constitutional magnitude, such as the adoption of a new constitution, treaty revision or continued EU Membership, has brought to the fore of the political and theoretical agendas at least two issues. One is the design of appropriate mechanisms for effective inclusion of 'the people' in constitutional reforms. The other issue is the possibility of, and grounds for, legitimate exclusion from consultation with 'the people' of certain core components of European democracy.
3. Judicial protection of human rights
Over recent years, increasing criticism of courts — constitutional and supranational courts in particular — from a range of actors has formed a growing part of the questioning of European constitutional democracy, whereby courts are seen as breaching the principle of separation of powers and as intruding into the territory of the sovereign national law-maker. These concerns involve a number of dimensions of which two perhaps deserve particular attention. One is courts' role in protecting human rights, especially those of unpopular minorities; the other is formal or spontaneous communication among courts across the boundaries of Member States. These developments arguably call for rethinking courts' status within the theoretical framework of constitutional democracy, as well as for clarifying legitimate mechanisms of judicial cooperation.
Scholars in the broader fields of Law, Political Theory and Social Sciences are encouraged to submit abstracts of no more than 500 words to Ms Katalin Gacs, at
. Abstracts should indicate the relevant stream in which colleagues wish to participate.
The deadline for receipt of proposals is Monday, 14 March 2016.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 10 April 2016. Participants are expected to submit final papers of no more than 8000 words by 5 June 2016. The convenors aim to publish selected papers as an edited volume with a leading publisher.
Registration is free. All participants will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses. Further logistical information will be provided with the provisional programme of the conference.
Gábor Attila Tóth