What has happened?
Hungary has approved a series of amendments to their constitution that had been deemed unconstitutional in past rulings. As a result, this could mean increased power for the state, increased power for the conservative Fidesz party and remove/weaken a number of checks and balances. The Prime Minister of the country, Viktor Orban has declared that the amendments are necessary if the country is to continue moving away from Hungary’s legacy of communism.
What are the amendments?
One amendment is to weaken the Constitutional Court meaning they will not have the power to remove laws already contained in the constitution. Another amendment, which other critics say weakens the Constitutional Court, is to lower the retirement age of judges in the country. Election campaigning has been restricted to the state-owned media, which has been argued to reduce freedom of expression in Hungary. A number of civil liberties (citizen freedoms) have been restricted and an anti-gay law has been created.
How was the government allowed to implement these amendments?
The wining conservative coalition (Orban’s Fidesz party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party) gave the government a two-third majority in their parliament, giving them substantial power to pass these changes with little opposition.
Who has opposed the amendments?
The United States government and a number of European Institutions have shown their concern over the amendments stating that it will undermine the democracy of the country. Furthermore, human rights organisations (e.g. Amnesty International) have also shown opposition
In the country, the Socialist Party refused to vote and thousands of protesters turned out in the capital, Budapest.
How has the government reacted to opposition of the amendments?
Orban stated that he was “fully committed” to European standards, but he has no intention to not go ahead with the changes. His deputy prime minister, Gergely Gulyas, said that “It’s natural for the governing majority to make use of the authority it received in democratic elections”.
What are your views on the amendments? Has Hungary’s government overstepped it’s power? What if this was your government?
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