Populist constitutionalism and democratic transformation

The paper argues that some of the current misgivings with constitutional democracy in East-Central Europe are related to the fact that the post-1989 liberal-constitutional project did not find widespread adherence and intractable conflicts with regard to the post-communist societal project have remained crucial political dimensions of many societies. I emphasize that, in this sense, the post-1989 transformations have not ended, and continue to be characterized by enduring contestation over constitutionalism. The paper will start with a brief discussion of pre-1989 legal and constitutional ideas. Second, it will discuss the post-1989 processes of constitution-making. Third, recent illiberal, populist developments will be discussed. A concluding argument is that populist resentment towards post-1989 liberal democratization builds to important extents on culturally rearticulated legacies of non-liberal and conservative understandings of society.