The Charming Smile of Viktor Orbán

The political campaign leading up to the recent Hungarian general elections was deeply flawed. One of the constitutionally suspicious steps of the party in power (Fidesz) was to blur the lines between the official communication of the Government (as a constitutional organ) and the campaign messages of Fidesz (as a candidate party). Unfortunately, none of the state institutions involved in the adjudication of the case could adequately address the constitutional issue.

Continue Reading →

"Only Fidesz" – Minority Electoral Law in Hungary

Hungary is holding parliamentary elections on 8th April. While the systemic deficiencies of the Hungarian electoral system have received international attention, the present Hungarian regulation and the practice of minority and extraterritorial citizen voting also create several possibilities for abuse. Hidden behind the façade of multiparty elections, nation building and minority rights, the current system serves as an instrument to keep the government in power.

Continue Reading →

The Emerging Trend of Parliamentary Performance: Freedom of Expression in the Hungarian National Assembly

Laurent Fabius, the former President of the French National Assembly, once called the parliament, rather poetically “a theatre of shadows”. It was a harsh criticism of the mostly formal and insignificant role of parliament in the legislative process under the excessive dominance of the Executive. A few years ago Hungarian opposition MPs decided to turn their own “theater” into something more meaningful, or at least more amusing. They have been using all kinds of creative techniques to express their opinion in the hemicycle. It seems, however, that the Speaker and the parliamentary majority do not really appreciate this new trend of performing arts for they constantly impose heavy penalties on the MPs. This practice is a reminder that the principle of parliamentary autonomy needs to be reconsidered in light of contemporary political realities.

Continue Reading →

Memory Wars of Commercial Worth – The Legal Status of the Red Star in Hungary

With this blogpost for the T.M.C. Asser Institute – Verfassungsblog joint symposium, I would like to draw attention to another facet in the legal governance of historical memory, that regarding the use of totalitarian symbols of the past. This issue remains particularly pertinent in the region of Central and Eastern Europe in parallel to the widely discussed decline in the rule of law.   

Continue Reading →

Memory Politics in Hungary: Political Justice without Rule of Law

After the 1989-90 democratic transition, Poland and Hungary were the first to introduce the institutional framework of constitutional democracy and of transitional justice. For a number of reasons, including a lack of democratic traditions and constitutional culture, after the 2010 parliamentary elections, liberal constitutionalism became a victim of the authoritarian efforts of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party. In April 2013, the government as part of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law adopted Article U, which supplements detailed provisions on the country’s communist past and the statute of limitations in the body text of the constitution.

Continue Reading →

Academic Freedom in an Illiberal Democracy: From Rule of Law through Rule by Law to Rule by Men in Hungary

October 11, 2017, was supposed to be the day when the deadline for meeting the requirements of the notorious "Lex CEU" would expire. Two days afterwards, however, the Hungarian government announces to extend the deadline by a year – out of the blue. And that is not the only interesting thing that happened today.

Continue Reading →

Mind the Gap! Schwierigkeiten der Rechtsstaatlichkeit in der EU

Seit Ende des Kalten Krieges haben sich sowohl internationale Organisationen als auch nationale Regierungen den Grundsätzen der Rechtsstaatlichkeit verschrieben – allerdings oft nur in Form von Lippenbekenntnissen. Welche Probleme resultieren aus diesem Vorgehen in der EU und vielleicht noch wichtiger: Was sollte dagegen unternommen werden?

Continue Reading →

Hungarian Constitutional Identity and the ECJ Decision on Refugee Quota

The outcome of the lawsuit launched by the Hungarian Government against the EU Council’s decision on compulsory relocation of asylum seekers before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) took no-one by surprise, neither in Budapest nor elsewhere. Some may have hoped that the complaint would succeed legally, but nevertheless it has always been primarily a part of a well-devised political strategy based on the idea of national identity as a concept of constitutional and EU law.

Continue Reading →

The EU as the Appropriate Locus of Power for Tackling Crises: Interpretation of Article 78(3) TFEU in the case Slovakia and Hungary v Council

The CJEU’s judgment in Slovakia and Hungary v Council of 6 September 2017 raises important instutional questions. As the Court implicitly recognises the EU as the appropriate forum for taking effective action to address the emergency situation created by a sudden inflow of third country nationals, it adopts its tendency towards purposive and effectiveness-oriented jurisprudence to asylum law.

Continue Reading →

Art. 7 EUV im Quadrat? Zur Möglichkeit von Rechtsstaats-Verfahren gegen mehrere Mitgliedsstaaten

Ungarns Veto blockiert einen Beschluss nach Art. EUV, Polen das Stimmrecht im Rat zu entziehen, und umgekehrt. Lässt sich das Veto umgehen, indem ein Verfahren gegen beide Mitgliedsstaaten gleichzeitig eingeleitet wird?

Continue Reading →