Drinóczi, Tímea, and Agnieszka Bień-Kacała. “COVID-19 in Hungary and Poland: Extraordinary situation and illiberal constitutionalism.” The Theory and Practice of Legislation 8, no. 1-2 (2020): 171-192.
Hungary and Poland have started their illiberal remodelling in 2010 and 2015 respectively. Both governments routinely apply the illiberal version of the Rule of Law (illiberal legality), which involves that every situation has the potential to be exploited for political gain. Both states opportunistically apply their constitutions and selectively invoke favourable constitutional provisions. And yet, this paper claims that the Hungarian Fundamental Law and the Polish Constitution are equipped with adequate emergency measures to provide for a proper framework for emergency legislation. In illiberal emergency constitutionalism, Hungary uses and abuses its Fundamental Law, while Poland is disregarding its binding 1997 Constitution and, at the same time, creates its new invisible illiberal constitution. This paper explores how it is done during the current human pandemic crisis by focusing on, first, the emergency regimes the constitutions provide for and their (non-)application. Second, it compares the operation of the parliaments as the Sejm chaotically passes crisis management related omnibus legislation and amendments on the presidential election during the extra-constitutional ‘state of epidemic’. The Hungarian Parliament operates under the ‘danger of crisis’. Yet, it still delivers regular legislative activities, as the emergency ‘legislation’ is done through governmental decree as per the Coronavirus Act 2020, which is unconstitutional. These phenomena necessitate an in-depth inquiry about the nature, form, and content of the Hungarian and Polish emergency legislation and governmental decrees. It is concluded that, under normal circumstances, the Hungarian and Polish constitutional measures set for guiding the authorities in emergencies are adequate. In the current political and constitutional setting and COVID-19 crisis, the form and the content of some essential Hungarian and Polish emergency measures stay below standards. It is a further warning sign for the European community to take Hungarian and Poland illiberal constitutionalism seriously. Their pushing the envelope will not end by itself.