JŠnos Kis, Professor of Philosophy, Central
"This book deserves a wide audience among political
theorists and scholars of constitutional law. Highly
recommended." - Choice
"It is a wide-ranging, largely philosophical,
enquiry ... it holds useful lessons for politicians
and constitutional lawyers beyond the borders of Hungary."
- The Commonwealth Lawyer
Constitutional democracy addresses the widely held
belief that liberal democracy embodies an uneasy compromise
of incompatible values: those of liberal rights on the
one hand, and democratic equality on the other. Liberalism
is said to compromise democracy, while democracy is
said to endanger the values of liberalism. It is these
theses that JŠnos Kis examines and tries to refute.
Making the assumption that the alleged conflict is
to be resolved at the level of institutions, he outlines
a new theory of constitutional democracy. A wide range
of problems encountered in constitutional democracy
are discussed, such as the popular vote, popular sovereignty,
and non-elected justices.
The volume is composed of three parts. Part
One, "Public Good and Civic Virtue", revisits the debate
between liberals and democrats on how to interpret the
democratic vote. In Part Two, "Liberal Democracy", the
author proves that on the level of principles there
is no incompatibility between liberalism and democracy
and that liberal theory can demonstrate that democratic
values follow from fundamental liberal values. In Part
Three, "Constitutional Adjudication in a Democracy",
the compatibility of democracy and judicial or constitutional
review is analyzed and a theory of constitutionalism
This volume will be invaluable for scholars in political
philosophy, political science, and constitutional law,
but is also recommended to all those interested in liberal
and democratic theory, and the transition to democracy
in Central and Eastern Europe.
JŠnos Kis was a leading intellectual of the democratic
opposition in Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1973
he was dismissed from his job as a researcher at the
Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of
Sciences for co-authoring a book on Karl Marx's conception
of socialism, and was banned from academia until 1989.
He was co-founder and first chairman of the Alliance
of Free Democrats, Hungary's liberal party. His main
professional interests are in moral and political philosophy
and in democratic theory.
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