POSTS BY Kriszta Kovács

Why Do We Need International Legal Standards for Constitutional Referendums?

Important substantive and institutional guarantees ensure the democratic quality of the general elections. In the case of a referendum these substantive and procedural guarantees are almost completely missing. Only international soft law deals with the question of the democratic quality of the referendum. Recent experience with Turkey, Hungary and other places show that this needs to change.

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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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