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Weekly Update 8 April 2022

Weekly Update 8 April 2022

Dear Friends,

On Sunday 3 April, Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party won the Hungarian parliamentary elections, with an increased share of the popular vote (54%). This ensured that it would retain a two-thirds "super-majority" in the legislature, and with it the ability to amend the Hungarian constitution. The victory means a fourth straight term as Prime Minister for Orbán, and the continuation of his project of "illiberal democracy" in opposition to the broad European consensus on the Rule of Law and other values.

Since he came back to power in 2010, Orbán has maintained controversially close ties with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite his condemnation of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in his inaugural address the Hungarian Prime Minister mentioned the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the list of opponents he had overcome, a list which also included Brussels bureaucrats, the George Soros "empire", and the international media.

The defeat of the Hungarian opposition coalition ends the immediate prospects for a reversal of Rule of Law backsliding in the near future. Nevertheless, the European Commission has stepped up its pressure on the Orbán administration to comply with Rule of Law principles, as President Ursula von der Leyen announced to the European Parliament this week that the budget conditionality regulation would now be activated against Hungary.

These latest developments will be covered by the Bingham Centre's new Short Course on the European Rule of Law Toolbox, which will take place across four half-day sessions in May. This week, we are pleased to announce that Professor Laurent Pech (pictured), Head of the Law and Politics Department at the University of Middlesex, London, has joined the team of trainers for the course. Professor Pech is one of the leading UK-based experts on European Rule of Law backsliding, and is regularly quoted by media outlets such as The Times, the Guardian, and the Financial Times.

In this week's Update, we bring you news of latest attempts by the House of Lords to address breaches of the Rule of Law and international law in the Nationality and Borders Bill, blogs by Bingham Centre researchers on the trade sanctions against Russia, and the need to update Rule of Law concepts to deal with algorithmic decision-making and mass surveillance online, the latest updates from the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre, and a reminder about our upcoming event at the end of April, the RECONNECT conference on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, a free online event for which booking details can be found in the events section at the end of this email.

The Weekly Update will be taking a two-week break over Easter. For readers who are looking for Rule of Law activities later in Spring, we would heartily recommend the biennial World Justice Forum which takes place on 30 May - 3 June in The Hague. Many sessions are available online. The World Justice Forum is organised by a leading global organisation with whom we regularly collaborate, the World Justice Project (WJP). ​​The WJP believe that the Rule of Law is essential to building fairer, healthier, and more peaceful communities. The World Justice Forum 2022's objectives are to "tackle the root causes of our global rule of law crisis through three days of agenda setting, learning, and action focused on three intersecting themes - access to justice, anti-corruption and open government, and equal rights and nondiscrimination". To register for in-person or remote participation, visit the Forum registration pages here.

You can read the whole Weekly Update here.

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