Towards Illiberal Constitutionalism in East Central Europe: Historical Analysis in Comparative and Transnational Perspectives

Symbolbild Brexit

The European Community has long understood itself as a ‘community of law’ underscoring the central role of law in the European project as a process of ‘integration through law’. As the rule of law, the limitation of the powers of public authorities by the law and the independence of the judiciary, define the democratic character of the European project, the evolution of a distinctive illiberal constitutionalism, a seemingly contradictory concept in itself, in some East Central European EU member states represents a significant political challenge with potentially far-reaching consequences for European integration.

Although, post-communist East Central Europe was a vital laboratory for the third wave of democratization, but the rise of ‘illiberal democracies’ three decades later suggests a possible failure of transition to democracy in the post-communist setting. This project seeks to explain what made this course of events possible across post-socialist Europe. To do so, it explores the rise of illiberal democracy through the lens of illiberal legal and constitutional practices and imaginaries, which are understood as a symptom of the ambivalences of liberalism.

With the support of a “Challenges for Europe” grant from the VolkswagenStiftung, we trace the normalization of ‘illiberal democracy’ as everyday politics in Europe, our project speaks to the shape of European constitutional democracy. With researchers focusing on the examples of Hungary and Poland where illiberal constitutionalism is at its zenith, as well as Czechia and Eastern Germany where it has remained an unrealized, but potent threat, this project reveals the extent to which illiberal democracy is a challenge for liberal constitutional democracy within the borders of post-communist Europe and beyond.

Project leaders

Prof. Dr. Joachim von Puttkamer (Universität Jena/Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena)
Dr. Michal Kopecek (Czech Academy of Sciences)
Dr. Ned Richardson-Little (Universität Erfurt)
Prof. Marta Bucholc, Ph.D.(University of Warsaw)
Prof. Renata Uitz, Ph.D. (Central European University Budapest)

Cooperation partners

Term & sponsorship

10/2021 - 09/2025

VolkswagenStiftung, part of the "Challenges for Europe" funding initiative, 376.360 euros.


Nachwuchsgruppenleiter des VolkswagenStiftung-Freigeist-Projekts "The Other Global Germany: Transnational Criminality and Deviant Globalization in Germany"
(Historisches Seminar)
Lehrgebäude 4 / Raum 122
Office hours
nach Vereinbarung
Profile page
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im VolkswagenStiftung-Projekt "Towards Illiberal Constitutionalism in East Central Europe: Historical Analysis in Comparative and Transnational Perspectives"
(Historisches Seminar)
Lehrgebäude 4 / Raum 131
Office hours
nach Vereinbarung
Profile page