Dissent and the Rule of Law

In this paper, we shall explore the idea that dissent lies at the very heart of the rule of law. We compare the rule of law with the principle of socialist legality in the constitutions of the communist states in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II. We argue that in a political system that suffocates any kind of critique, resistance or dissent legal formalism cannot put restraints on power but rather reinforces the abuses of power. No laws or institutional frameworks may produce the rule of law in a society that has no practices of political dissent or academic critique. Demonstration of this is the failure of the rule of law in the European post-communist states, and in particular, in Bulgaria. We see the silent rallies of judges in defense of judicial independence in Poland and Bulgaria as such practices essential for the emergence of rule of law in the post-communist societies.