• Programme

    Democracy, Rule of Law, Constitutional Identity

"I never imagined myself at Budapest, but fortunately I could take part in the Summer School at PPCU with lovely staff and professors! I am so sad that it is over now, it was worth participating."

Academic Content

Democracy, Rule of Law, Constitutional Identity

Schedule: 12 lecture days with 4-5 lecture hours per day. In addition to the 48-60 hours of lectures, there will 3-4 hours per day of reading exercises and a discussion/consultation at the end of the day. So, the reading and discussion time adds another 36-48 hours. In total, participants should expect the programme to be approximately 96 hours in 12 days.

How we met



For decades democracy and rule of law have had a unanimous understanding in the field of constitutional law and politics. Contemporary political issues still require their theoretical analyses and the way they are understood both in Western and in Eastern Europe. The course intends to point out the different possible interpretations of democracy and rule of law and seeks the circumstances that influence them.

It is also an open question to what extent nations and constitutions have identities and how they can be differentiated. Such questions are current issues not only in constitutional theory but also for jurisprudence and legislation. The course examines what the global features of democracy and rule of law are and, on the other hand, what are the ones that are identical in a nation.



12 lecture days with 4-5 lecture hours per day. In addition to the 48-60 hours of lectures, there will 1-2 hours per day of reading exercises and consultations. Lectures consist of presentations on certain issues and the common discussion of case studies.

Besides, participants are welcomed to visit constitutional institutions like the Constitutional Court, the Curia or the Ombudsman’s office. In total, participants should expect the programme to be approximately 85 hours in 12 days.

  • 1. Democracy

    Undoubtedly, democracy is probably the most basic feature of civilised nations. The “rule of the majority” is a common principle in every country; however it is a difficult question where it turns to be the “tyranny of majority” and what can constitutions do to avoid such situations. Lectures consider what “will of the people” means and how it can be interpreted in contemporary relations. They also deal with non-majoritarian or counter-majoritarian institutions like the constitutional court, the problems of activism and self-restraint and how the principles of majority and constitutionality can be balanced.

    Module Content

    Day 1: Roots of democracy. Theoretical considerations. Democracy in the history of Europe and of the United States. Democratic transitions in post-socialist countries

    Day 2: Democracy and separation of powers.

    Day 3: Democratic decision-making. What are the issues that can be decided by majority? “Will of the People” and elected governments. The role of constitutions

    Day 4: Non-majoritarian entities. The role of constitutional adjudication. Pros and cons about activism

    Day 5: Exam

  • 2. Rule of Law

    The concept of the rule of law is built on the hypothesis that the legal order is complete and certain. These presuppositions necessarily lead to arbitrary court decisions when the limits of legal interpretation are at stake. In a constitutional state based on the separation of powers, the triangle of legality-legitimacy-efficiency cannot be avoided, but in the same time being legal, legitimate and efficient is almost impossible for a government, one edge of the triangle will necessarily dominate. In our culture based on the rule of law it seems that legality is the dominating edge of government-architecture. Courts with the power of interpreting the laws are not only the final forums of legal debates but also the final guardians of the government. If there is no counter-balance of their free-interpretation, the outcome of the control of governmental activity will be as arbitrary as the ex iure divinum government of a sovereign and uncontrolled monarch. Good government needs something that balances the ultra-estimation of the rule of law. A substantive principle which could help to find this balance could be the following: "public weal respecting personal dignity and human rights is the fundamental, inviolable and incontestable criterion of good government.

    Module Content

    Day 1: Historical development: rule of law in contrast with totalitarian states. Rule of law as principle and as normative rule.

    Day 2: Rule of law in the jurisprudence of courts. Globalisation of rule of law

    Day 3: Rule of law and constitutionalism. Relation of rule of law and other principles. Rule of law and fundamental rights.

    Day 4: Rule of law and legal certainty. Dangers and hopes

    Day 5: Exam

  • 3. Constitutional Identity

    Despite of globalisation and harmonisation constitutions and constitutional laws are still unique. Although there are certain similar solutions of many constitutional problems, all constitutions have a basic core that is different from any other constitution’s. Constitutional identity manifests the most significant values and principles of a nation and of a constitution.

    The course analyses how identity can be put into constitutional terms and to what extent can political or judicial organs protect identity. Besides, it also evaluates the relation between identity and symbols and symbolic features.

    Module Content

    Day 1: Where does identity come from? Considerations on constitutional identity

    Day 2: Identity and neutrality. Different approaches on state neutrality; from laicité to religious references. Identity and pluralism. Identity and symbols

    Day 3: Identity in legislation – in Hungary and worldwide. What makes identity? Identity in the jurisprudence of courts.

    Day 4: Religion in shaping Europe and beyond. Some considerations on the historic origins of the present landscape. Religion and culture. Religion and the state. Religious entities and public institutions

    Day 5: Exam

Agnieszka Bien-Kacala

Kopernikusz Egyetem, Torun, Lengyelország

Joel Nichols

St Thomas Egyetem, USA

Pier Pigozzi

USFQ, Quito, Ecuador

Varga Zs. András

The Constitutional Court of Hungary / member of the Venice Commission of the Coucil of Europe / Pázmány, Law

Schanda Balázs

The Constitutional Court of Hungary / Member of the European Consortium for Church and State Research and of the International Consortium of Law and Religion Studies / Pázmány, Law

Csink Lóránt

Pázmány, Law
Preparing for the future


Participants will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation at the Summer School. Courses will be evaluated in accordance with PPCU’s academic rules (1-5 grades). A diploma will be issued for those who stay for the full programme and successfully fulfil the course requirements.

Depending upon your host institution, academic credit may also be earned for successful completion and participation.