Guys with Guns vs. Guys with Reports: Egyptian and Hungarian Comparisons

In Egypt, the military just ousted the democratically elected president of the country and suspended the new constitution. In Hungary, the European Parliament just adopted a report, which harshly denounces the new Fundamental Law enacted by the two-third majority governing coalition of the country. Both events are different in many respects, of course – and yet they both raise an important question: What kind and amount of external help is needed to avoid constitutional backsliding, and how does this help affect the sovereignty of the constitution-makers? Or, more generally: how can the international community of well-functioning democratic states long governed by the rule of law help emerging democracies in the constitution-making process and later through trans-judicial communication among judges to build up and maintain liberal constitutionalism?

Military Coup in Egypt

On July 3, 2013 military officers removed the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and announced the suspension of the Constitution. They called for early presidential and parliamentary elections and named the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as interim president.

What preceded the coup was a deepening division of the country, with an arrogant Muslim Brotherhood that misread electoral gains for a political blank check along with an incompetent and unpopular President on the one hand, and a reckless opposition that appeared ready to sink the country in order to bring down the Islamists on the other. This conflict brought 1.4 million people to the streets on 30 June to demand Morsi’s departure, smaller, yet still large numbers responded to insist on his remaining in office ...

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