DEMOS Discusses Political Constitutionalism in Pisa

Matyas explained fake news in elections

September 25, 2019 12:00 AM
Mátyás Bencze: 'Mixed tribunals can help bring judges and ordinary people together to mitigate populism'.

DEMOS researcher Mátyás Bencze, from the Centre for Social Sciences in Budapest, took part in the final conference of the Jean Monnet Module European Public IUS, which was organized by the Scuola Universitaria Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy, on September 20. The conference explored the populist challenges to constitutional democracies. The title of the conference was "Political Constitutionalism and Constitutional Populism: What do They Share?"

In his contribution, Bencze discussed both the possibilities of political constitutionalism and how the judiciary can meet the challenges of populism. In the first case, Bencze discussed free and fair elections in the era of fake news and psychological manipulation. One episode illustrating that is the 2016 presidential election in the US. Another, the Brexit referendum. “When there is a spread of fake news, many citizens cannot be informed about the real political events and news. In the lack of reliable information, citizens may not vote in a responsible way,” he says. 

In his discussion about legal remedies against the populist challenge, Bencze touched upon one of the key assumptions underpinning DEMOS: public distrust toward rule-of-law institutions may serve the interests of political parties, which often use populist rhetoric. These political parties usually depict governance institutions as servants of an “elite”.  A solution for this challenge could be the reintroduction of mixed tribunals, where professional and lay judges decide a case together in one judicial panel. “That genuine participation of lay people could bring the courts and the ‘ordinary people’ closer together,” Bencze says. “This could increase trust toward the court system.”

Click here and learn more about the conference program.



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