Hungary’s Constitutional Controversy

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.

orban

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?

Thanks for reading,

Digestible Politics

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5 comments on “Hungary’s Constitutional Controversy

  1. Cristina P. says:

    Romanians are planning similar amendments to the new Constitution as concerns the power of the Constitutional Court. We are not neighbours for nothing with Hungaria… Great post!

  2. Harvey says:

    It doesn’t sound like they are moving very far away “from Hungary’s legacy of communism.”

  3. It has often been said that a society’s attitude to the Jews is a pretty reliable barometer to that society’s general health. Recently, Marton Gyöngyösi of the Jobbik party (which defines itself as “a principle, Conservative and radically Christian party) recently called for a tally of “people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary”. Given that he has also made racist slurs against the Roma (“gypsies”) and that his party has founded a vigilante group (the Hungarian Guard) – I think that Hungarian society is poised at a very dangerous crossroads.

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