Courts and the Populist Moment

In the post-1989 wave of new democracies, courts served as important stopgaps as the complex institutional arrangements of modern democratic governance sought to take hold. Over the past few years, insurgent populist groups have used the structures of democratic election to unwind the liberal underpinnings of post-1989 democracies. While courts remain a critical arena for confrontation with populism, the judicial intervention that proved pivotal in the early stages of new democracies are hard-pressed to resume the same role if the other institutional features of democratic governance collapse. This paper will address the legal challenges of the current moment using examples from Poland, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia.