Hungary’s Constitutional Revolution

Tue, 02/14/2012
12:00 PM, Bowl 16, Robertson Hall
Event Category: 
Panel Discussion


Click here to watch


On January 1, Hungary's controversial new constitution came into effect.   With it, Hungary's status as a democratic country is no longer certain.    Facing widespread international criticism and legal action from the European Union, the Hungarian government has nonetheless accelerated the legal changes and continued the extraordinary centralization of power in the hands of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán.  

Our knowledgeable panel will explain what has happened so far, explore what options are available to the European Union and/or the Council of Europe to influence Hungary, and reflect on how and why constitutional democracies sometimes fail.


  • Kim Lane Scheppele, Director, LAPA
  • Jan-Werner Müller, Professor of Politics, Princeton; Director, Project in the History of Political Thought
  • Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, WWS
  • Gábor Halmai, PIIRS fellow from the University of Budapest, former chief counselor to the President of the Constitutional Court of Hungary
  • Miklós Haraszti, former OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and author of Worker in a Worker’s State and The Velvet Prison: Artists Under State Socialism
  • Miklós Bankuti, Senior Research Specialist, WWS, Princeton MPA ‘11

Kim Lane Scheppele  is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values as well as Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs, Princeton University.  From 1994-1998, Scheppele lived in Budapest, doing research at the Constitutional Court of Hungary and teaching at both the University of Budapest and at Central European University, where she was a founding director of the Program in Gender and Culture.   Scheppele's work concentrates on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress.   After 1989, Scheppele studied the emergence of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia, living in both places for extended periods.  Her many publications on both post-1989 constitutional transitions and on post-9/11 constitutional challenges have appeared in law reviews, social science journals and in many languages (including Russian, Hungarian and French).    Her new book is called The International State of Emergency: The Rise of Global Security Law.  It will appear in 2013 with Harvard University Press.

Jan-Werner Müller is a Professor of Politics, Princeton University, and directs the Project in the History of Political Thought, Princeton University.  His latest books are Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe and Constitutional Patriotism.  He regularly contributes to the London Review of Books, the Guardian, Project Syndicate, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Die ZEIT.    

Paul Krugman is Professor of Economics at Princeton University.  He received his B.A. from Yale, his Ph.D. from MIT; prior to taking his current position he taught at Yale, Stanford, and MIT.  He also spent a year on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers in 1982-3.  His research is mainly in the areas of international trade, where he is one of the founders of the "new trade theory" with its focus on increasing returns and imperfect competition, and international finance, where he has worked on such issues as currency crises.  In addition to teaching and academic research, Krugman writes extensively for non-technical audiences, and is a regular op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

Gábor Halmai is Professor of Law and director of the Institute of Political and International Studies at the Eötvös Lóránd University. In the academic year 2011-2012 he is a visiting professor at Princeton University.  His primary research interests are comparative constitutional law and constitutional adjudication of fundamental rights. His most recent publications are: Auf dem Weg in eine autoritäre Demokratie (Osteuropa, 12/2011); "The Use of Foreign law in Constitutional Interpretation," in Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, 2012), and "Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments: Constitutional Courts as Guardians of the Constitution?" (Constellations, 2012).

Miklós Haraszti is a writer, journalist, human rights advocate and university professor. He served the maximum of two terms as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media from 2004 to 2010. Currently he is Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia Law School, New York. Haraszti studied philosophy and literature at Budapest University. In 1976 he co-founded the Hungarian Democratic Opposition Movement and in 1980 became editor of the samizdat periodical Beszélö. In 1989, Haraszti participated in the Roundtable negotiations on transition to free elections. He was a member of the Hungarian Parliament from 1990–1994, and then moved on to lecture on democratization and media politics at numerous universities. Haraszti's books include A Worker in a Worker's State and The Velvet Prison, both of which have been translated into several languages.

Miklós Bankuti is a recent graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School (MPA'11) and currently works as researcher at Princeton's Law and Public Affairs Program. His research focuses on constitutional and legal reform in Hungary. Previously, he has worked as a refinery analyst at the International Energy Agency and a finance associate with the Clinton Foundation, where he managed the foundation's research on emerging carbon capture and storage technologies. He holds undergraduate degrees in economics and finance.

Cosponsored with the European Union Program at Princeton.