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Revisiting the Dark Legacies of Illiberalism: Varieties of Constitutionalism and Legal-Political Practices in Post-Authoritarian Europe | Conference

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Imre Kertész Kolleg, Friedrich Schiller University Jena


History Jurisprudence Political science


This conference aims to rethink the "dark legacies" of past illiberal legal systems (Nazism, fascism, communism, authoritarianism) in Europe and their implications for the present day.

Revisiting the Dark Legacies of Illiberalism: Varieties of Constitutionalism and Legal-Political Practices in Post-Authoritarian Europe

Until recently, the model of “constitutional tolerance” that allowed for a plurality of constitutional traditions within EU was understood as a strength. Not anymore. The constitutional transformation of Hungary and Poland towards authoritarian regimes in recent years has undermined the belief that despite the plurality there is a constitutional core shared by all member states allowing for mediation of conflicts and preserving the basic shared principles and values of EU as liberal democratic community. Today this diversity of constitutional orders is seen rather as a possible existential threat to both the EU and liberal democracy in Europe.

This conference aims to rethink the so-called ‘dark legacies’ of past illiberal legal systems in Europe and their implications for the present day.

The conference is a part of the VW-Stiftung funded project “Towards Illiberal Constitutionalism in East Central Europe: Historical Analysis in Comparative and Transnational Frame/Perspective” This project aims to enhance historical, interdisciplinary, and comparative perspectives in scholarly engagement with illiberal and authoritarian challenges to constitutional democracy in ECE situating the present-day conflicts in the longer history of the ebb and flow of constitutionalism, democracy, legality and pluralism in the region. Focusing primarily on the era of late state socialism, post-communist liberal transformation, into the current illiberal challenge to constitutional democracy, the project situates these regional developments within broader European and global transnational perspectives.


02 December 2022

13:30 Welcome/Registration

14:00 Opening Remarks (Joachim von Puttkamer)

14:15–15:45 Panel I: Authoritarian Constitutionalism in Interwar Europe and its LegacyChair: Joachim von Puttkamer- Cosmin Cercel - Fascists Claims to Sovereign Power: From (Counter)Revolution to Constitutional Design in Romania- António Costa Pinto - The Diffusion of Corporatist Constitutions in the Era of Fascism- Zachary Mazur - Justifying the Authoritarian State: Constitutional Legitimacy in Interwar PolandCommentator: Michael Wilkinson

16:15–17:45 Panel II: Authoritarian Positivism and Its LegaciesChair: Annette Weinke- Katharina Isabel Schmidt – Reckoning with Radbruch: On Continuities and Ruptures in Modern German Legal History.- Naum Trajanovski - An Atypical Positivist. Stanisław Ehrlich And His Early Years at Państwo i Prawo- Sebastian Martin - Legal Thought and Judicial Authoritarianism. A Francoist Legacy in Today’s Spanish StateCommentator: Maciej Kisilowski

18:00–19:30 Key-NoteChristian Joerges - “Darker Legacies of Law in Europe”: The Florence Project Revisited - Accomplishments, Failings, Lessons

03 December 2022

09:00–10:30 Panel III: Institutionalizing DictatorshipChair Sophie Lange- Derk Venema - Supreme Courts Under Nazi Occupation, Greater Goods and Lesser Evils in Dealing with the Enemies of Democracy- Ivan Sablin - Functions of a State Socialist Parliament: The USSR Supreme Soviet in 1955–1991- Jakub Szumski – Minimal Legality and the Road to Authoritarian Rechtstaat in Poland (1945–1980)Commentator: Ned Richardson-Little

11:00–12:30 Panel IV: Post-War Constitutional VisionsChair: Stefanie Middendorf- Leila Brännström - The Rise and Fall of the Swedish Social Democratic Constitutional Vision- Jakob Rendl - Dark or Bright? European Constitutionalism and International Law in the Post-War Period- Nicolas Sesma-Landrin – An Open Constitution for a Closed Regime. The Legal Newspeak of Francoist DictatorshipCommentator: Sebastian Gehrig

13:30–15:00 Panel V. Cold War Legacies in Constitutional LawChair: Immo Rebitschek- Mateusz Grochowski – Long Shadows and Short Memories. (Mis)conceiving Market Freedom in the Polish Law (online)- Michał Stambulski/Wojciech Zomerski - Constitutionalist Orientalism and Cold War Epistemics in Central and Eastern Europe- Michal Kopeček - Rule of What Law? Legacies of Authoritarian Past and Liberal Constitutional Imagination in Post-Communist East Central EuropeCommentator: Marta Bucholc

15:30–17:00 Panel VI: (Neo-) Liberal Constitutionalism and its Legacies in the Post-Liberal AgeChair: Florian Peters- Daniel Smilov - Legacies of Liberal Constitutionalism in Illiberal Constitutional Politics- Bob Roth - The Transnational Legality of ‘Market Democracy’: - Przemyslaw Tacik - Legacy of Inoperativeness. On Certain Elective Affinities Between Socialist and Illiberal LegalitiesCommentator: Renáta Uitz

17:00 Concluding Remarks

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