The Hungarian case study engages with the presence and instrumentalization of historical narratives in Hungarian constitutionalism through the examination of mnemonic and identity-based constitutionalism – particularly because Hungary’s Fundamental Law contains strong historical references which have been alluded to and utilized in recent case law of the Hungarian Constitutional Court. The case study analyzes the roots of how historical narratives were incorporated into Hungarian constitutional documents as well as the academic and political debates surrounding them, particularly regarding the country’s relationship to great empires in the Central-Eastern European region. It further delves into the current consequences of relying on historical narratives as a constitutional imaginary, especially whether the historical narratives of the Fundamental Law can be connected to the assertion of state sovereignty through the rejection of EU integratory efforts.
The Estonian transformation from an eastern outpost in the West to a western outpost in the East merits scholarly attention. The case study departs from the paradox that the Estonian constitutional theory and practice has opted for one of the most liberal interpretations of the primacy claims of EU law, despite the sovereignty clause of the Estonian Constitution. The initial hypothesis is that the concept of sovereignty as imaginatively presumed and practiced in Estonian courts, media and academia has been always strongly security dominated and thus understood in the collective imaginary as necessarily shared. This relates to political-normative, financial and defense (or ontological) sovereignty and conditions them. The context might invite to rethink statehood, sovereignty and EU membership from the lens of postcolonialism, the predicament of belated modernity and fragility of statehood and the so-called ontological anxieties among peoples, rulers, courts and academia.
The constitutionalist project formed a crucial part of the Polish transformation from the 1980s. It expressed the aspiration of a return to Europe and was largely inspired by Western constitutionalism. It focused on the institutions, legal processes, fundamental personal and political rights. However, its relation to the constitutional imaginary of social justice and social rights remained ambiguous, although these values lied at the origin of the transformation starting from 1980 and were enshrined in the Constitution of 1997. The hypothesis is that social justice, as strictly related to redistributive justice, could not easily be squared with the dominant imaginary of constitutional law and jurisprudence as a purely analytical and scientific endeavour. As social justice becomes increasingly more pressing in Europe and beyond, the Polish context might invite to rethink the leading values of European constitutionalism and its status as legal ideology and utopia
The history of constitutionalism is woven thick with the culture of forgetting. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the thesis endeavours to bring the past back to the table as well as analyse the fundaments of identity constitutionalism in colonial and post-colonial environments. Challenging its limits, the thesis in hand seeks to extend and render more accessible the vocabulary of European constitutionalism. Decolonising this language, it is argued, will serve to refine and widen the scope of the European Constitutional Imaginary. With the Hungarian case – a country that has been both an imperial force as well as an imperial subject – the author will seek to illustrate the impact of empire and identity on statehood and, consequently, constitutionalism; often, and lamentably, missing from discourse on post-Soviet legal systems. Ultimately, it seeks not a ‘return to Europe’ of the central Eastern European region’s intellectual tradition but rather a more expansive understanding of it – one that ties it inextricably to Europe’s core.