Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Reassessing Post-Socialist Legal Development: The Politics of Unevenness, Imitation, and Re-Traditionalization

Fri31  Mar04:15pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Room 375


Cristian Collina1
1 Department of Law University of Turin, Italy


After the fall of Communism, the general expectation was that the socialist legal systems, once considered a particular legal family, would just transition to Western models of market, democracy and rule of law. 30 years after, these matters are enshrined in constitutions, laws and codes. However, despite the formal records, there are substantial issues that concern the law and politics of post-socialist countries. Their legal development is still marked by unevenness with the EU and Western standards. Indeed, to reach their transitional goals, post-socialist countries had to resolve many critical issues such as the adoption of a liberal paradigm replacing the state-centred ones, the revision of sovereignty doctrines to accommodate international law, the independence of the judiciary with the promotion of jurisprudence, the introduction of non-legislative constitutional review. Troubles and delays in solving these issues may account for the current unevenness of post-socialist legal development. However, what affected post-socialist legal development most? The paper proposes a reassessment of the post-socialist legal development highlighting the role of a shaken but unsolved nexus between law and politics, inherited from the past and preserved during the transition. Two key dynamics are analysed: the imitation of Western models and the re-traditionalization of the legal culture and systems. The paper will focus on the cases of Russia, FSU, and Central Eastern Europe.