The United States Constitution has endured for well over two centuries, so it may seem strange that a country would rewrite its constitution entirely. The remaking of a country’s constitution could set it on a dangerous trajectory toward autocratic rule or could set the country on a course of political, social, and economic growth. Turkey and Hungary are two countries which have either recently rewritten their constitutions, or are close to doing so. By charting this course, these two nations, both democracies, will confront the mammoth challenges associated with changing a country’s approach to constitutional democracy. Hungary’s new constitution was enacted on January 1 of this year while Turkey is on track to draft a constitution within the year.
The methods used to rewrite these constitutions and any changes that affect rule of law will not go unnoticed in the world. While very different culturally and politically, Hungary and Turkey will have to address very similar concerns. Both are ruled by strong and controversial parties, with less than perfect records on defending freedoms. The means by which these nations rewrite their fundamental laws will have an impact not only on their own citizens, but also on their standing as members of the international community. Turkey seeks to join the European Union and play a role in the affairs of its region, while Hungary, as a member of the European Union, must still contend with its precarious role in a Europe that is ever more interconnected.
William Dinneen ’12
Sponsor: Robert Sutherland