The Hungarian Constitutional Court and Constitutional Identity

Ever since the 2010 parliamentary elections Hungary has set off on the journey to became an ‘illiberal’ member state of the EU, which does not comply with the shared values of rule of law and democracy, the ‘basic structure’ of Europe. The new government of Viktor Orbán from the very beginning has justified the non-compliance by referring to national sovereignty, and lately to the country’s constitutional identity guaranteed in Article 4 (2) TEU. This constitutional battle started with the invalid anti-migrant referendum, was followed by the failed constitutional amendment, and concluded in early December last year by a decision of the Constitutional Court, in which the packed body in a binding constitutional interpretation rubber-stamped the constitutional identity defense of the Orbán government.

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A Game of Values: Particular National Identities Awaken in Europe

The EU’s legitimacy is thin and this weakness is reflected in its impotence in the face of the drift towards authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe. It remains to be seen whether such an authoritarian turn as the Hungarian can happen in old democracies and if their institutions are strong enough to limit the effects of global processes which are shaping the national identities of societies and the impact of Member States on the shared EU framework.

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National Constitutional Identity in the European Constitutional Project: A Recipe for Exposing Cover Ups and Masquerades

On November 8, 2016 the Hungarian Parliament did not adopt the Seventh Amendment of the Fundamental Law seeking to protect Hungarian constitutional identity in the face of European imposition. The Seventh Amendment was meant to cover up the minor scratch on the Government’s pride caused by lack of popular support for its relentless fight against the EU. Although the Amendment did not pass, supporters of European constitutional projects cannot afford to sit back and relax.

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Can Poland be Sanctioned by the EU? Not Unless Hungary is Sanctioned Too

Hungary has announced to block any Article 7 sanctions that the EU might propose against Poland. Why should Poland back down when nothing will come of standing up to the EU? Given Polish intransigence, the Commission may be tempted to stall for time or to retreat, which would be disastrous for the rule of law in the European Union. But the power to levy Article 7 sanctions can be restored. The Commission should do now what it should have done long ago. It should begin by triggering Article 7 (1) not only against Poland, but against Hungary as well.

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The Invalid Anti-Migrant Referendum in Hungary

After an unprecedented and partially illegal attempt to bring Hungarian voters in line against the EU refugee quota, the referendum launched by the government is invalid, as only around 40 percent turned out to vote. This was an own goal made by the Orbán government, which after overthrowing its predecessor as a result of a popular referendum made it more difficult to initiate a valid referendum.

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The Hungarian Constitutional Court’s case with the ECHR: an ambivalent relationship

Hungary was the first country in the post-Soviet bloc that joined the Council of Europe and ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and this remains a matter of national pride. While the Convention is perceived as a yardstick in human rights protection that may not be circumvented, still lively debate surrounds the authority of the case-law of European Court of Human Rights. The recent constitutional reform has left the status of the Convention largely untouched. The Convention still enjoys a supra-legislative rank: it is subordinated to the Fundamental Law but is superior to all other pieces of legislation.

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Anti-Roma-Märsche in Ungarn: Staat muss Anzeichen auf Hasskriminalität nachgehen

Die Neonazi-Aufmärsche von Gyöngyöspata 2011 haben Ungarn eine Verurteilung vor dem EGMR in Straßburg eingebracht – und den Staaten Europas die klare Ansage, Hasskriminalität als HASSkriminalität zu verfolgen und die Augen vor rassistischen Motiven von Straftaten nicht zu verschließen.

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Menschenwürde schlägt Anerkennungsgrundsatz

Europa fußt auf Vertrauen. Aber was, wenn manche europäischen Mitgliedsstaaten aufhören dieses Vertrauen zu verdienen? Ist die Vertrauenswürdigkeit ihrerseits Vertrauenssache? Angesichts der Mir-doch-egal-Haltung, die einige mittel- und osteuropäische Regierungen gegenüber dem Europarecht und den fundamentalen Verfassungsgrundsätzen Europas mittlerweile an den Tag legen, ist das keine theoretische Frage, sondern eine, von der Europas Zukunft abhängt. Heute hat der Europäische Gerichtshof sie auf eine Weise beantwortet, die mir einen Stein vom Herzen fallen lässt.

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Hungary’s Struggle: In a Permanent State of Exception

The Hungarian government has called for a referendum on EU relocation quota plan and declared a “nationwide migrant crisis”. The justification given by the government for these measures was the “massive immigration” which “endangers the jobs of Hungarians and redraws Hungary’s cultural and religious identity”. The argument went that, due to a “migrant crisis” the Hungarian government needed a greater room for maneuvre, not limited by constitutional constraints, in order to manage the crisis. This argument presupposes that, as a result of the migrant crisis, Hungary has ended up in a state of exception, when constitutional guarantees have to be limited or suspended; essential powers have to be concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, until the crisis is overcome.

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