In the 1980s, Hungary, like its neighbors in the communist world, was not a liberal democracy. Nor did it practice constitutionalism or the rule of law as we understand those precepts in the West. So I was intrigued when, in 1988, I had a call from the U.S. State Department asking if I would meet with a team of constitutional drafters from Hungary.

I hosted the delegation for two days of conversations about what goes into making a constitution in a liberal democracy. I was then invited to Budapest that summer for further conversations. The communist government was still in power. Even so, I could sense that the authorities, mulling developments (such as the rise of Solidarity in Poland) in the region, sensed that change was coming and hoped to ride it out.


A. E. Dick Howard, Confronting “Illiberal Democracies”, Richmond Times-Dispatch (June 29, 2019).
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations