Crisis rather than consolidation seems the best way to describe the current situation in some of the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. According to former dissident Janos Kis, ‘Hungary is undergoing a genuine constitutional crisis’, while the constitutional lawyer Kim Lane Scheppele feels that ‘Romania unravels the rule of law’ and Romanian constitutionalist Ioan Stanomir declares that the ‘Romanian constitution has become an insigni¼cant and irrelevant element’ (Kis 2011; Scheppele 2012; Stanomir 2012). The political and constitutional crises can be related to the implications of the global ¼nancial and economic crisis, but the roots of democratic breakdown clearly lie elsewhere. The argument of this book is that one important dimension of the crisis is that democracy has been unevenly institutionalized in the new democracies. A one-sided emphasis on the formal institutions of the rule of law and the entrenchment of democracy has meant a neglect of substantive, participatory, and legitimatory dimensions. Part of the result is that now the ‘strain between representative and

participative democracy has become too strong’ (Kurczewski 1993: xv). The democratic and constitutional transformations that the former communist countries go through have been unevenly de¼ned and affected by visions and templates of constitutional democracy that prioritize a formalistic and elitist or technocratic understanding of democracy. Democratization trajectories have been strongly in½uenced by approaches that feel a ‘discomfort with democracy’.1 But while the transition ‘mantra’ prioritized formal institutions related to the rule of law, separation of powers, and rights regimes, a sociological-substantive dimension to the building of constitutional democracy was largely overlooked, that is, a dimension that involves democratic learning and deliberation, as well as engagement and participation. The current, and recent, crises in at least a number of the new democracies reveal the lack of dynamic interaction between society and politics as well as a persistent absence of a strong civil reservoir that is able to hold of¼cial politics and public institutions accountable (the case of Hungary is striking here). While the common explanation for weak civil societies has been cultural, historical, and even civilizational (cf. Sztompka 2004), the argument here will be that the main problem might lie elsewhere, that is, a problematic or at the very least uneven design and implementation of constitutional democracy.