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The Third Wave – The New Constitution

The Eötvös Károly Policy Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee have examined the draft Constitution of Hungary submitted to the Parliament on 14 March 2011. According to the NGOs the draft Constitution undermines democratic political competition and makes political change more difficult by transforming institutional structures, weakens the system of checks and balances and alters the framework of the political community by extending the right to vote. The draft Constitution decreases the level of protection of fundamental rights and significantly limits the enforceability of these rights through curbing the Constitutional Court’s powers. Since there is no information available on the planned content of the acts of Parliament requiring a two-third majority to be adopted, it may be stated that the adoption of the new Constitution will be only the beginning of the constitution-making process, not the end of it.


In their current, third analysis on the legislative work of the Hungarian Parliament, the Eötvös Károly Policy Institute, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee examine whether the constitution-making process in Hungary meets the requirements deriving from the principle of the rule of law and compares the draft “Fundamental Law” (i.e. the draft of the new Constitution) submitted to the Parliament on 14 March 2011 with the present constitutional system.

The critics of the three NGOs may be summarized as follows.

1. The constitution-making process does not meet the requirements deriving from the principle of the rule of law. The Fundamental Law of Hungary is the product of one political party and the net nine-day long parliamentary debate leave no chance for any kind of in-depth debate.

2. The draft Fundamental Law alters the accepted definition of the political community. It follows from the provisions of the draft Fundamental Lawthat Hungarians living abroad may also have the possibility to take part in the parliamentary elections, even though they do not fall under the scope of the acts adopted by the Parliament, thus they do not take the consequences of the political decisions.

3. The draft Fundamental Law abandons the principle that all human beings are entitled to human rights because they are human beings and that persons hold these rights without regard to the fulfilment of their duties, their personal merits or their social usefulness.The draft Fundamental Law is dominated by a powerful right-wing Christian ideology. In the future, “loyalty, faith and love” may in principle serve as the basis for restriction of basic rights. Furthermore, the draft Fundamental Law eliminates the right to actio popularis petitions for the constitutional review of the laws.

4. The draft Fundamental Law weakens the balances of the governing majority, thus the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman. The draft Fundamental Law maintains the restriction of the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court related to laws on the central budget and taxes. The constitution-maker does not deem it necessary to have a separate ombudsman for the national and ethnic minorities, the rights of future generations or the protection of personal data. Consequently, the independent institutional protection of these rights will cease to exist.

5. The draft Fundamental Law undermines democratic political competition and political change. The draft Fundamental Lawsplits the authority to adopt the central budget between the Parliament and the Budgetary Council and dissolving the Parliament becomes easier.The draft Fundamental Law deprives the political force replacing the current governing majority of the possibility to realize its own government program since it declares that subject matters, such as family policy, the pension system or the acts on taxes, which have been within the authority of the government in power, shall be regulated by acts adopted by the two-third of the Parliament.


The full analysis is available here.



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Hungarian Helsinki Committee