Commentary Rule of law

Rule of law may undermine democracy, says law professor

The disproportionate power of the judiciary over politics is one of the signs of the crisis of Western European liberal democracies, French law professor Bertrand Mathieu told Magyar Nemzet in an interview

One of the reasons for the crisis of liberal democracies is that the rule of law has masked the fact that liberalism and democracy can actually be two conflicting things, Bertrand Mathieu, professor of law at the French Sorbonne University said.

“The political powers of the nation states are being undermined by voters’ perception that the real power is not in the hands of their elected representatives but those of the European institutions and judges,” Mathieu said. “The former political legitimacy of the nation states should be restored and their political leaders should have the liberty of real action.”

He said many crucial issues of modern societies – such as fundamental constitutional questions and gay marriage – could best be solved through referendums.

The purview of the legislative versus the executive and national versus community law should also be better defined. He said one of the basic problems of liberal democracies is that they have the wrong approach to fundamental rights that leads to a fragmented society where the supremacy of the individual and the proliferation of rights can undermine society itself.

Another problem is that the EU should not impose standard behaviours on culturally different nations.

“The same model of family, sexuality and ethics cannot be applied indiscriminately: although EU member states share a common history, they have diverging traditions that should be accounted for when defining national versus European identity,” Mathieu said.

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