Hungarian Watch

Fidesz Muscles Through New Hungarian Constitution; Undermines Key Checks & Balances

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

By a vote of 262-to-44, the Hungarian Parliament (i.e., only the center-right Fidesz party with the insurmountable majority) muscled through a new Constitution on Monday that all opposition parties boycotted, and which the European Union and United Nations criticized as lacking sufficient checks and balances between the executive and legislative powers.

The primary Fidesz talking point seems to be:  “We are breaking from our Communist past!”

The Constitution served to repay “those Hungarians who changed the regime and the political players who took part in shaping political life,” [Janos Lazar, leader of Fidesz’s parliamentary faction] said. “We are trying to settle that debt.”

Hmmmm….  And how are they doing this?

  • “One of the most disputed provisions curbs the powers of the constitutional court on budget and tax matters and allows the president to dissolve Parliament if a budget is not approved.” (New York Times)
  • Judges forced to retire at 62 (instead of 70)
  • “Meanwhile, the number of constitutional court judges will be increased and their terms of office extended, potentially allowing the government to increase its influence over the judiciary.” (Financial Times)
  • “The constitution will also retain a decision made last year to strip the constitutional court of its power to rule on budgetary matters, unless public debt falls considerably.”  (Financial Times)

The contents of the new Constitution go into effect in January, 2012.

For more details, please go to:

  1. Hungarian Parliament Approves New Constitution by Judy Dempsey in The New York Times, April 18, 2011.
  2. Hungary Approves New Constitution by Chris Bryant in The Financial Times, April 17, 2011.

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