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Comparative Constitutional Law

Besides the general theoretical aspects of comparative constitutional law there is a strong interest within the Law Department in the recent decay of liberal democratic constitutionalism all over the world. Special focus is given to recent deviations from the shared values of constitutionalism towards a kind of ‘populist, illiberal constitutionalism’ in East-Central Europe. The theoretical question that these backslidings raise is whether populism and illiberalism are reconcilable with constitutionalism at all, and what is the relationship, if any, between ‘populist constitutionalism’ and the concept of political constitutionalism. 

As most of these backsliding countries are also members of the European Union, a value community based on liberal democratic constitutionalism, a related research topic is, how the EU can and should cope with these member states. Research in this area has focussed and is still focusing upon usual mechanisms enforcing rule of law, such as infringement procedures or Article 7 of TEU. Recently the possibility and desirability of economic sanctions also has become a fashionable theme. 

Another, partly related research area is national constitutional identity, particularly within the European Union, where several national constitutional courts have openly challenged the primacy of EU law and the authority of the Court of Justice of the EU in their judgments. The attitude of these courts varies from constructive dialogue to more explicit defiance. At times, national constitutional courts have invoked Article 4(2) TEU and their national constitutional identity to justify the violation of the common values as set out in Article 2 TEU. The research aims to analyse the difficult relationship between these two core provisions of European constitutional law, and also deal with the more theoretical question of constitutional pluralism within the EU. 

There are EUI researchers currently working on the themes of illiberal constitutionalism and constitution-making as well as on national and transnational constitutional identity. In September, 2016 a group of researchers has established a very active Working Group on Constitutionalism and Politics, which organized 22 events in the first year of its existence. 

For a more detailed indication of the supervisory interests of Prof. Halmai, please click on his website:


Page last updated on 06 April 2021

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