Date: 22nd of March 2023
Location: European University Institute, Florence
Organizers: Karolina Kocemba (European University Institute), Michał Stambulski (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Since the populist rise (especially in Central and Eastern European countries), scholars focusing on human rights and EU law have used the terms such as ‘rule of law crisis’, ‘human rights backlash’ or ‘democratic backsliding.’ Despite these terms primarily referring to policies and rhetoric carried out by populist governments, there are more actors than just populist parties involved in and responding to current development in Europe. On one hand, right-wing and fundamentalist organizations use legal mobilization to challenge human rights and European standards. Those organization with the support of populist governments are seeking social change through extensive usage of legal norms, discourse, or symbols. Therefore, institutions such as constitutional courts and constitutional litigation, designed to protect liberal rights and freedoms, are used to restrict them. Right-wing organizations learned how to use legal actions and tools, sometimes even more efficiently than liberal and human rights organizations that mastered these tools in the last decades. On the other hand, their effectiveness spurs the activities of liberal, rule-of-law-oriented legal (academic and judicial) organizations. Previously rather abstract categories like ‘constitution’ and ‘rule of law’ are becoming political ideas capable of mobilizing protest. In the middle of this we also have the EU institutions responding to the populist and nationalist challenge by seeking to close its democratic deficit and mobilize European political citizenship.
During the workshop, using both empirically and theoretical oriented papers, we would like to address the following questions:
- what are the legal and political criteria that distinguish ‘correct’ and ‘unacceptable’ legal mobilization,
- how populism facilitates legal mobilization,
- what role non-state actors play in populist regimes and what legal tools they use,
- what is the mobilization potential of European institutions, law, and academia,
- what factors constitute the effectiveness of mobilization through the law.
Registration and full programme are available here.