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Research project

ReLiCon - Religion, Illiberal Constitutionalism and the Retrogression of Fundamental Rights in East Central Europe

This project has received funding via the CIVICA Research call 2022, which is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under the CIVICA Research project. Additionally, CIVICA research projects receive financing from national funding sources and partners' own resources.

This interdisciplinary collaborative research project, led by a team of four experts from the Hertie School, CEU, and EUI, seeks to lay the foundations of and conduct a pilot study for a larger investigation on the role that organized majority / (de facto) state religion plays in democratic backsliding and the rise of illiberal democracy. It focuses more closely on its impact on constitutional and judicial politics of fundamental rights in ECE.

The research will explore the ways in which different constitutional texts and judicial interpretation have become venues for continued or unprecedented contestation of fundamental rights and liberties through the use of Orthodox Christian and Catholic value claims in Hungary and Poland, and in the understudied cases of Bulgaria Czechia, Romania, Latvia and Moldova. In doing so, it will identify (1) factors / forces that create opportunities for the pursuit of religious narratives that feed the retrogression of fundamental rights and democratic backsliding and (2) factors / forces that boost democratic resilience / halt the retrogression of fundamental rights (and the spread of illiberal democracy).

In addition to disseminating the research findings through a publication, a one-day workshop on the theme of the project held at the Democracy Institute of CEU Budapest will facilitate engagement with a network of relevant stakeholders. The project is thus aimed at establishing a CIVICA-led wider consortium of experts working at the intersection of religion, constitutionalism, fundamental rights and democratic backsliding from different disciplines and institutions, amongst CIVICA partners and beyond. The core team will also develop an agenda for further research and apply for a major grant that would allow to continue and consolidate the project beyond CIVICA’s seed funding.

External Partners

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