The starting point of the workshop is the impression (hypothesis might be too strong) that if the new autocracies that emerged in the early twenty-first century can find a path to democracy at all, the lessons from a previous era might not be all that helpful. We are dealing with different forms of autocracy, with perhaps very different incentives. Yet some approaches might still be promising (round tables for instance); and some general insights from previous transitions might not need revisiting (such as not to touch the military and basic property structures).
Given that some previous transitions also now do not look nearly as successful as may have been the case a dozen years ago (Hungary being an obvious example), we also want to ask, in a more historical vein, what exactly may have gone wrong (to such an extent that the very word “transition” is now toxic in some parts of the world). Not least, we want to engage with the criticisms of previous transitions that have been advanced by a number of political and legal theorists: we often hear that they were too technocratic and top-down, and that, for instance, the values associated with constitutionalism never became part of “lived experience.” But exactly how can the rule of law – to take just one example – become part of lived experience?
Email Kim Girman, [email protected], to access the papers.