Rule of Law – 3

The state of the Rule of Law globally is beginning to consume me. Sitting in the NSW State Library on Wednesday this week I found myself being confused, perplexed and horrified all at the same time. It appears to me that the world is slowly but surely falling apart.
In Australia the rule of law is almost guaranteed. It isn’t guaranteed in our constitution like it is in the USA (The Bill of Rights, being the first ten amendments to the constitution, protects the rule of law) but it is generally upheld steadfastly by our support of an independent judiciary and the bicameralism of our government system. The upper house can more or less guarantee that no one party can hold an absolute majority and, although this has happened in the past, it does not mean that the constitution can be changed through parliament, with a referendum being necessary to change the constitution.
This is not the case in Hungary. In 2010, a disenfranchised and angry electorate elected the right wing politician Victor Orban and his Fidesz Party to power with a two thirds majority in the Hungarian Parliament. As Prime Minister, Victor Orban had a large enough majority to change the constitution through uncontested legislation. Immediately the government introduced their own constitution and took control of the judiciary, essentially creating a democratically elected autocratic state. Now having the power over the courts, there is no force with the ability to declare anything he does within the country as unconstitutional. Thus we have seen the end of liberal democracy in Hungary. This story is not limited to Hungary. Poland has introduced similar measures and has begun to systematically undermine the post-Cold War liberal democracy.
This project has begun to open my eyes to an issue of unparalleled importance and has left me feeling a sense of dread. Will this just be a case in the fledgling democracies of Eastern Europe and Asia, or will history repeat itself with dramatic consequences.