What is left of constitutional imaginaries in the CEE region? Examples from the Czech Republic

The narrative of progress (Go West!) in the CEE region seems dead. It is gradually, on many levels, replaced by what is called democratic backsliding. The total sum of various versions of populism, however mediated and incompletely implemented, has been structurally important (though not absolute) in establishing a broad alternative to the existing order supported by the dominant constitutional imaginaries. It is the contingency and constellation of certain interests that are central to understanding how constitutional imaginaries are politically conditioned and how they evolve; dependent upon contingent coalitions of interests, ideas, experts and technocrats trained in certain traditions. The paper uses the rise of centrist technocratic populism in the Czech Republic and presents a vision of a regime alternative to the European project. This alternative is based on a denial of political pluralism, anti-partyism and resistance to constitutionalism.