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NGO comments on the 5th Amendment to the Fundamental Law

Opinion of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Eötvös Károly Institute

On 16 September 2013, the Fundamental Law of Hungary was amended for the fifth time by the Parliament. This means that on average, the governing majority, which has adopted the text of the Fundamental Law not long ago, has continued to amend it every 125 days. In addition to the existing deficiencies of legitimacy and substance, the constant patching and padding of the Fundamental Law further dispels the notion that the constitution is to set the limits of the political powers, as Hungary’s constitution seems to serve as a tool of the political power to enforce its everyday political interests.

It is important to note that the Fifth Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary have still not produced an acceptable document which is suitable for regulating the common matters of the Hungarian political community. The large majority of the professional and political objections raised domestically and abroad in relation to the Fundamental Law have been left unanswered.

The opinion of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Eötvös Károly Institute elaborates on the following points regarding the Fifth Amendment:

  • As far as the amendments related to the administration of justice are concerned, the Fifth Amendment merely aligns the Fundamental Law with lower ranking legislation.
  • The Fifth Amendment appears to have modified the rules of placing political ads in media outlets (the old ones excluding political advertisements from the commercial media), however in reality there has been no real change. The impact of the new provisions, included in the text by the Fifth Amendment, remains the same as that of the old provisions: as commercial media outlets may only broadcast political ads for free, only their social responsibility and wisdom will determine whether the messages of the political parties are conveyed to the voters during marketable airtime or not.
  • The Fifth Amendment not only maintains the violations resulting from already adopted laws with respect to religious communities but it openly declares the differentiation between religious communities by allowing the Parliament to grant a priviliged status to certain religious communities.

The detailed opinion of the three NGOs on the Fifth Amendment to the Fundamental Law is available here.


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Hungarian Helsinki Committee