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Photo:Budapest: Hungarian Parliament“, by Jorge Franganillo licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Szente, Zoltán. “Stepping Into the Same River Twice? Judicial Independence in Old and New Authoritarianism.” German Law Journal 22, no. 7 (2021): 1316-1326.


The study seeks to answer the question of whether there are similarities between the methods used to limit judicial independence in Hungary during the last phase of the communist regime, i.e. before the democratic transition, and today, when many scholars believe that an authoritarian transition is taking place in this country. For this purpose, I argue that despite the undeniable fundamental differences between the political and legal system of these two periods, the mechanisms and ways as the independence of judiciary were and are influenced by the government can plausibly be compared. The analysis seems to support this presumption: both the formal instruments and the informal channels of influence in the hands of the ruling political forces show a number of similarities. Thus, even if there are differences in the degree of their application and result, from centralizing the system of judicial administration to replacing court leaders with politically loyal people there are a number of instruments that enable central government to influence the judiciary, while maintaining the appearance of judicial independence.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.