Photo credit: McGill University

Ognen Vangelov, April 2018

I arrived at McGill on April 20 to attend the workshop “Rule of Law in Europe: Threats and Resilience” at McGill University, organized by the Jean Monnet Centre Montreal. I presented a paper on “The Judiciary as a Bedrock in the Single Pyramid Architecture of Power in Hungary and Macedonia,” which is a part of my larger research project tackling the processes of what has recently been termed “democratic backsliding” in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Following the workshop, I continued my BEAR mobility experience through getting acquainted with scholars whose research interests are similar to mine. I had very insightful discussions with Prof. Maria Popova from the Jean Monnet Centre, who specializes on judiciaries in post-communist Europe.

Following my PhD dissertation, my intention is to pursue a research agenda focusing on judiciaries and the role they play in democratic resilience (or lack thereof) in countries of central and eastern Europe. Prof. Popova and I had several discussions about the avenues of such research, including the possibility to conduct post-doctoral research under her supervision at McGill. Prof. Popova agreed to support my post-doctoral application at McGill and if my application is successful I will cooperate with Prof. Popova on a project to study the mechanisms of subjugation of the judiciary systems in Croatia (an EU member) and Serbia (negotiating to join the EU). The research should yield further insight about the prospects of longer-term democratic consolidation (or lack thereof) depending on how the incumbents orient themselves toward reforming the judiciary systems. This relates to my doctoral dissertation about autocratization in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which demonstrates that a democracy can transition into a less democratic or non-democratic form of governance, regardless of its prior democratic consolidation, if the core tenets of democratic stability such as an independent judiciary are compromised.

During my stay in Montreal I also met with Prof. Johanne Poirier from McGill’s Law Faculty. I conducted an interview with Prof. Poirier regarding her research on comparative constitutionalism in multinational states, which is another area of research I am currently involved in. Prof. Poirier gave me some very good insights about her comparative work for Canada’s and Belgium’s constitutional models of federalism. This was especially useful since immediately after my visit to McGill I departed to Brussels for a short research stay. Overall, my BEAR mobility experience was more than satisfactory and provided me with excellent opportunities for possible future collaboration with scholars from McGill.