The Role of (EU) Competition Law in Defending the Rule of Law

Kati Cseres is an Associate Professor of Law at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG) and Program Director of the EU Law Masters at the University of Amsterdam. This series of RevDem op-eds collects reflections on the contemporaneous challenges for the Rule of Law, which stemmed from the conference organized at Radboud University (Nijmegen) on 21-22 September in honour of Prof. Petra Bàrd. This is the latest entry following previous contributions by Benedetta Lobina on the Russo-Ukrainian war, and Pauline Thinus on EU spending conditionality.



Illiberal Liberalism: COVID and the Moral Crisis of the Left

by Muriel Blaive In the recent pandemic, the moderate left has failed the lower half, what we used to call the working class, which is now rather the working poor. What do I mean by the left? Its definition varies from country to country and almost from person to person. I leave aside the extreme left and focus in this article on the liberal left, which I use as a synonym for the moderate left or liberals, a current of thought largely represented amongst intellectuals and journalists, for instance those of the New York Times, the Guardian or the Washington Post that I will cite many times here. While this moderate left has historically claimed to represent the interests of the disadvantaged, I argue that with COVID they have focused instead on surviving at all costs at the expense of the poor, including – and this is my second point – by endorsing authoritarian means: censorship, repression, and public shaming. They rationalized their heavy-handed response with a narrative built [...]



The EU’s turn towards a transactional approach to Rule of Law enforcement? Spending conditionality in the 2020s

This series of RevDem op-eds collects reflections on the contemporaneous challenges for the Rule of Law, which stemmed from the conference organised at Radboud University (Nijmegen) on 21-22 September in honour of Prof. Petra Bàrd. Following Benedetta Lobina’s op-ed on the impacts of the Russo-Ukrainian war, Pauline Thinus addresses the consequences of the use of Rule of Law spending conditionality within the European Union (EU).



Taking Stock: The Polish Opposition Victory and the Rule of Law

By stark contrast to the worsening situation in Hungary, Poland may be facing a new dawn and a restoration of liberal democracy. But caution may be required to ensure that this dawn does not darken again into political acrimony and fragmentation.



The pro bono fight for the rule of law in the EU

Frenchman Laurent Pech is concerned about the rule of law in the European Union. With the pro bono network of academics known as “The Good Lobby Profs”, he goes into battle against constitutional breaches in Brussels. In fact, he sees our democracy in danger.



Why the Polish Elections Cannot Be Repeated in Orbán’s Hungary

Poland is returning to the path of democracy and could become one of the most influential member states of the European Union. By comparison, Hungary’s prospects look bleak.



From Your Ex-Yugo: The Doomsday Clock is Still Ticking

RevDem recently published two articles, by Veronica Anghel and Volodymyr Yermolenko on the consequences of the war in Ukraine for Europe, as part of a series of Eurozine, a network of magazines to which Revdem belongs. Today we are publishing another article from this series - by Vladimir Petrovic



Can the invasion of Ukraine be a breaking point for the appeasement of autocrats in Europe?

Benedetta Lobina (PhD candidate, University College Dublin) considers the Rule of Law impacts of the Russo-Ukrainian war



Black Knight and Pied Piper. Silvio Berlusconi: Populist Pioneer or Symptom of Italy’s Crisis?

In this op-ed, Stefano Bottoni discusses Silvio Berlusconi's political legacy in Italy.



From democracy to authoritarian capitalism

In this op-ed, Gábor Scheiring explores the latest Freedom House Nations in Transit Report, its implications for Hungary, and how the report only reveals the tip of the iceberg of the democratic backsliding in Hungary.



A life for power? Viktor Orbán’s long affair with Hungary

Do the familiar tropes of anti-tyrannical literature explain anything about what happened and is still happening in contemporary Hungary, a country that has changed so profoundly not only as compared to its post-1989 realities but from its 2010 self too?



Thailand’s Conscription: A Threat to Democracy and Freedom

Thailand is about to hold a general election in May 2023. Several progressive political parties are proposing to pass an act to abolish conscription. But the military, which has always meddled with Thai politics, has indicated it will block any efforts in this direction.



No Justin, No Martin, No Peace

Representative Pearson is part of this tradition of American political protest – a tradition that conservative conceptions of civility and peaceful protest mischaracterize and aim to delegitimize; a tradition against which Tennessee Republicans and Obama fundamentally stand, despite appearances. There’s no peace, Representative Pearson reminds us, without confrontation.



Rule of law and the structural inequalities of the European project: Europe and its dissenting peripheries

In this op-ed by Peter Agha, PhD, he argues for a different analysis of the current trouble with Europe, one which starts from the recognition of the irregularity of the rule of law policies and highlights how the clashes between the populist movements and the rule of law doctrine reflect the structural inequalities of the European project. This important aspect is often neglected because of the way we currently frame the discussions – as “the rule of law crisis”. As a result of this, our debates focus on juridical arrangements, whereas the distributional consequences of the EU and the role the legal structure plays in its maintenance remain (almost) invisible.



Heritage in War: A Key to Define the Future of Ukraine

Dóra Mérai, a lecturer of Cultural Heritage Studies at CEU, explores how heritage - often used to promote divisions - has also been reframed in Ukraine following Russia's invasion "to develop empathy, express solidarity, and help people cope with the difficulties".



Economic Sanctions are Insufficient to Stop the War

A year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine, catching many of us unprepared despite clear signs of impending conflict. The assumption that a European nation would conquer another in the 21st century appeared far-fetched. When the worst scenario happened, experts doubted Ukraine's ability to hold its ground for more than a few weeks. However, the country keeps resisting. The economic domain, along with warfare and geopolitics, presents many examples of events that did not turn out the way it was expected. This op-ed by Volodymyr Kulikov highlights three selected points about economic sanctions, corporate self-sanction, and energy wars.



Living with Double-Think

In this op-ed, the author describes life in Russia's propaganda machine, and how the internet provides venues for Russians to access media that is not controlled by the government.



Weak prospects for Russia’s democratization

Wolfgang Merkel offers a typological classification of Putin's Russia after exploring how it compares with fascist regimes in Germany and Italy as well as Stalinism, and opines that several factors will contribute to Russia's "poor prospects" for democratization.



Adam Michnik: The war in Ukraine is not a war between the Russian people and the Ukrainian people

This war, of which we are commemorating the anniversary today, is undoubtedly the most important war of our time, because it is a war in which the imperial-chauvinist-totalitarian project is struggling with the democratic, European, pluralist project on the one hand.



Why is the Russian bureaucracy failing in the face of war?

Vladimir Dubrovskiy, senior economist at CASE Ukraine, explores why the Russian state, which is based on the principle of "vertical power", appears to be inept in the face of war.



Ukraine in the Union, or the end-of-history thesis reinvigorated

In this op-ed, RevDem managing editor Michal Matlak looks at the relevance of the war in Ukraine to Fukuyama's often-mocked thesis of the end of history and addresses the implications of the accession process for Ukraine, as well as for the EU.



Constitutional Democracy’s Civic and Social Dimensions. On the Czech Presidential Election 

Jiří Přibáň comments the outcome of the recent presidential elections in the Czech Republic.



It’s Time to Imagine a Future for Burma without Armed Forces

In this op-ed, authors Thiha Wint Aung and Htet Min Lwin argue for the abolition of the armed forces in Burma.



5 Key 2022 Books: Democracy in Literature

Kasia Krzyżanowska, RevDem editor of the Review of Books section at the Review of Democracy, presents five key books in democracy in literature in 2022.



Asking the wrong questions, the wrong way: Why replicating “national consultations” is an inadequate response to their success

Although national referenda have become a rare species in post-2010 Hungary, the use of another instrument of plebiscitarian democracy—non-binding informal polls called national consultations—has not only been serving as a legitimization tool of government policies, but it has also been adopted by an opposition movement as a mobilization technique. This article argues that the strategic adoption of populist democratic repertoires, along with their main procedural flaws, is a threat to democratic representation. There is a need to shift discussions toward how these processes can be improved.



Westernization by Preemptive Rejection: How Viktor Orbán Sells to U.S. Conservatives Their Own Obsessions

In this op-ed, Ferenc Laczó explores how Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's regime "has been succeeding to a remarkable degree at translating key aspects of Hungarian ethnic nationalism into a wider panic about the future of Western civilization."



Belated Retribution: Polish Lustration After 2015

The transitional justice measures introduced by PiS are not only at odds both with the Polish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, but are also a worrying sign of a departure from the model of inclusive democracy.



“Vacanze Romane” for the EU’s Values Crisis?

In his latest op-ed, RevDem editor Oliver Garner analyzes the Italian election results and their implications not only for Italy, but also for the European Union.



A turning point of democracy?

To mark the International Day of Democracy, we present an op-ed by Wolfgang Merkel examining the state of democracy around the world.



Change of framing and the need for peace in Ukraine: A reply to Szulecki and Wig

Responding to critiques of their op-ed on why the war in Ukraine should not be discussed using the "democracy vs. autocracy" framework, authors Irina Domurath and Stefano Palestini further develop why orienting the discussion around Russia's abuse of international law could draw more international support and avoid escalation into a Third World War.



Citizens’ Assemblies and the International Response on Climate Displacement

In this op-ed, Magdalena Smieszek explains how citizens' assemblies on the national level promote inclusive discourse because of their bottom-up approach; the variety of transnational and global citizens' assemblies focused on climate change; and what impact these assemblies might have on climate change action.



The war in Ukraine is all about democracy vs dictatorship

A dictatorship has just brutally attacked its democratic neighbor. It’s not the first time in history that happens, but there are good reasons to see the war in Ukraine as the first one defining the conflict lines of this century.



The Discourse of Privilege: Western Europe and the Russian War against Ukraine

In this op-ed by Elżbieta Kwiecińska and Pavel Skigin, they detail why "being a radical pacifist is a great privilege that only Westerners can afford nowadays."



Ukraine: not a war about democracy

In this op-ed by Irina Domurath and Stefano Palestini, they discuss the war in Ukraine and why the West should leave behind the narrative that this is a "war of values."



Big, but Distant Dreams. Political and Legal Implications of Moldova’s Quest for EU Membership

On 3 March 2022 Moldova applied for EU membership. After the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Moldova started to build its independent statehood based on democratic values. However, the question that arises is whether Moldova reached its political and legal maturity to join the EU. 



The Conference on the Future of Europe as a technopopulist experiment

Carlo Invernizzi Accetti and Federico Ottavio Reho in their op-ed for RevDem claim that political parties and other intermediary bodies are central for the democratization of the European Union.



Kiran Klaus Patel: The European Union has unexpectedly become too important to ignore

Ferenc Laczó discusses with Kiran Klaus Patel his latest book "Europäische Integration. Geschichte und Gegenwart" (European Integration: History and the Present Day).



European support for democracy: stress-tests ahead in 2022

Ken Godfrey and Richard Youngs write about 5 issues on the horizon in 2022 that will test how far the EU really is committed to defending democratic values.



RevDem Thread: Transnational lists and beyond. How to democratise Europe?

This is our first RevDem thread – a series of short pieces answering key questions about modern democracies from top experts and practitioners in the field. We invite all interested authors to send further comments to our email address.



Montás: Why liberal education is the bedrock of modern-day democracy

In this conversation, hosted by RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Roosevelt Montás discusses his recent book "Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation".



Adam Bodnar: What new rights do we need to better protect ourselves from abuses of power

Adam Bodnar on new rights that should be included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights



Three tales about France and Eric Zemmour

Michał Matlak writes about the most controversial candidate in the French presidential elections - Eric Zemmour.



Oliver Garner: Bridging Brexit and Polexit? Reforming EU withdrawal 

This op-ed considers whether the reforms to the EU withdrawal that use the lessons of Brexit to address the possibility of "Polexit" can be helpful in resolving the ongoing values crisis in the EU. 



Máté Szalai: Three narratives about the Qatari elections

Máté Szalai considers the three key narratives that observers and analysts use when discussing the historic elections held in Qatar this October. The first narrative highlights the elections as a vital milestone in the slow process of democratization, the second noted the importance of identity politics and voting rights, and the final narrative opined that the elections were a PR stunt to bolster Qatar’s public image.



‘In the Name of the Family’: Conference Report on the Budapest Demographic Summit

The authors summarize and contextualize the content of the summit to argue that the conference not only provided an opportunity for its participants to address the ‘demographic crisis’ in Europe and the ‘family politics of conservative’ governments,’ but also amounted to an attempt to develop a transnational narrative for such self-declared conservatives that could unite political and ideological actors on various continents.



Unspoken Inequalities. The Problems of Men in Europe

In many developed countries, polarization of young women and men has been increasingly visible in polls and has been noted by public opinion.



Informal power – undermining democracy under the EU’s radar in Hungary and Poland

In this article, Edit Zgut discusses how the governments in Hungary and Poland have been able to undermine democracy using informal power, namely political clientism and media capture, while "flying beneath the radar" of EU's mechanisms which are meant to prevent such deteriorations.



The instability of the Northern Ireland Protocol: A present threat to the Rule of Law?

RevDem editor Oliver Garner reflects here on the present threat to the Rule of Law arising from the fraught context of renegotiation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.



How populists change parliaments

In their op-ed, Aleksandra Maatsch and Eric Miklin argue populist parties are both willing and able to weaken or even disempower representative institutions.



An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy

We are publishing an open letter signed by key figures from the American political life.



Peru: A Democracy That Does Not Deliver

Diego A Salazar-Morales analyses for us the political crisis in Peru.



Why is the collective protection of democracy in the Americas doomed to fail? The Inter-American Charter at 20

Stefano Palestini writes about the Inter-American Democratic Charter on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.



Is Democracy in Tunisia Threatened or is it on the Way to Consolidation?

Ameni Mehrez analyses the political situation in Tunisia after the summer wave of protests.



New Crises: Science, Morality and Democracy in the 21st Century 

Wolfgang Merkel in his op-Ed analyses three aspects of democracy crises: scientistation, moralisation and polarisation.



After the Election in Iran: What to Expect From the New President?

Luíza Cerioli analyses the situation of Iran after the presidential elections, focusing on the international consequences of this choice.



How East-West Dynamics Define Europe

In his article, Ferenc Laczo writes about the roots of the division of Europe into East and West and its consequences for European politics today.



Legal impossibilism versus the rule of law

Our editor, Katarzyna Krzyżanowska, writes about the relation between the rule of law in Poland and the idea of legal impossibilism, providing some worrying empirical data on the administration of justice in Poland.



Editorial: Why yet another journal on democracy?

April 2021 marks the first month of the Review of Democracy, RevDem for short, an intellectual and academic journal founded by the CEU Democracy Institute. In our first editorial, we would like to inform our readers about the purpose of the Review and the main ideas behind it.



DI and RevDem Event: What Price the Rule of Law?

On 25 January the CEU Democracy Institute hosted Commissioner Didier Reynders and MEP Katalin Cseh for a debate on the new EU Regulation on Rule of Law conditionality. In this first editorial of the RevDem Rule of Law section, editor Oliver Garner and assistant editor Teodora Miljojkovic reflect on the implications for constitutional democracy of the impression that the Rule of Law comes at a price.



The Politics of Antipopulism

The mainstream media and academia as well as political elites identify populist movements as the most important threat to the current liberal democratic regime. Populist actors have indeed unsettled and begun reshaping the European political landscape.



To Protect Academic Freedom, Stop Rule of Law Backsliding

Rule of Law and academic freedom are cherished political ideals of the liberal tradition. Insights from our work at McGill University’s academic freedom monitoring clinic, conducted in partnership with Scholars at Risk Network, has underscored the mutually reinforcing relationship between these two notions.  


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