The new Hungarian Basic Law, which was ratified on 1 January 2012, provoked domestic and international controversy. Of particular concern was the constitutional text's explicit claim that it was situated within a reinvigorated Hungarian legal tradition that had allegedly developed over centuries before its violent interruption during World War II, by German invaders, and later, by Soviet occupation.
To explore the context and validity of this claim, and the legal traditions which have informed the stormy centuries of Hungary's constitutional development, this book brings together a group of leading historians, political scientists and legal scholars to produce a comprehensive history of Hungarian constitutional thought. Ranging in scope from an overview of Hungarian medieval jurisprudence to an assessment of the various criticisms levelled at the new Hungarian Basis Law of 2012, contributors assess the constitutions, their impacts and their legacies, as well as the social and cultural contexts within which they were drafted. The historical analysis is accompanied by a selection of original source materials, many translated here for the first time. This is the only book in English on the subject and is essential reading for all those interested in Hungary's history, political culture and constitution.
Ferenc Hoercher is Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Professor of Aesthetics at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Hungary. He has published widely on philosophy, intellectual history, poetry, legal theory and politics and is a also member of the editorial board of Hungarian Review. Thomas Lorman is a teaching fellow at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London (UCL). He is the author of Counter-Revolutionary Hungary 1920-1925 (2006) and The Path to Fascism in Slovakia (I.B.Tauris, 2018). He has also published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and is an editor of the journal Central Europe.
List of Illustrations List of Contributors 1. Introduction, Philip Barker and Thomas Lorman 2. Law and the Ancient Constitution in Medieval and Early Modern Hungary, Martyn Rady 3. The Birth of the Constitution in Eighteenth-Century Hungarian Political Thought, Istvan M. Szijarto 4. Resurrecting the Past, Reshaping the Future: The Rise of the `Ancient Constitution' at the Diet of 1790/1, Philip Barker 5. Reforming or Replacing the Historical Constitution: Lajos Kossuth and the April Laws of 1848, Ferenc Hoercher 6. Reform Fever and Disillusionment: Constitutional Codification Fiascos of the Hungarian Liberals after the Settlement of 1867, Andras Cieger 7. The Use and Abuse of Flexibility: Hungary's Historical Constitution, 1867-1919, Thomas Lorman 8. Law I of 1920 and the Historical Constitution, Istvan Szabo 9. Law I of 1946 and Law XX of 1949: Continuity or Discontinuity in Traditional Hungarian Constitutionalism? Balazs Fekete 10. Is a Revival Possible?: Theoretical Reflections on the Historical Constitution, Kalman Pocza 11. Epilogue: On the Future(s) of the Historical Constitution, Ferenc Hoercher and Kalman Pocza Appendix I: Primary Sources on Hungarian Constitutional History: The Golden Bull of 1222 Appendix II: The Rakos Declaration (1505) Appendix III: Extracts from Stephen Werboczy's Tripartitum (1517) Appendix IV: The Laws of 1687 Appendix V: The Laws of 1790/1 Appendix VI: Robert Townson's Translation of Law XXVI of 1790/1 Appendix VII: The `April Laws' of 1848 Appendix VIII: Law XII of 1867 Appendix IX: The Declaration of the First Hungarian Republic (November 1918) Appendix X: The Preamble to the Constitution of the Hungarian Socialist Federal Republic of Councils (1919) Appendix XI: The Preamble to Law I of 1920 Appendix XII: The Preamble to Law I of 1946: On the form of Government of Hungary Appendix XIII: The Constitution of the Hungarian People's Republic (1949): Constitution of the Hungarian People's Republic Appendix XIV: The Fundamental Law of Hungary: God bless the Hungarians Bibliography Index