Fidesz and Faith: Ethno-Nationalism in Hungary

“The protection of Hungary’s self-identity and its Christian culture is the duty of all state organizations” says one of the new provisions that were adopted on 20 June to change the country’s Fundamental Law of 2011. Besides its potential to limit fundamental rights, what are the possible consequences of this constitutional change, in legal, cultural and political terms?

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The Hungarian Constitutional Court betrays Academic Freedom and Freedom of Association

On 5 June the Hungarian Constitutional Court issued two injunction decisions, almost identical in their texts, which suspend the constitutional review procedures against two laws enacted in early April, 2017 by the Hungarian Parliament, outside the normal legislative process. The first, an amendment to the Act on National Higher Education known as „Lex CEU“ was challenged by a constitutional complaint, the second, the Act of the Transparency of Organizations Receiving Foreign Funds by 60 opposition MPs of the Hungarian Parliament with an abstract norm control notion. The handling of these two petitions by the Constitutional Court was odd in more than just one respect.

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There is No Such Thing As a Particular „Center and Eastern European Constitutionalism“

After a new landslide electoral victory by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a fresh perspective on constitutional developments in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has started taking shape. It could be described as constitutional appeasement. The argument goes that given a widespread popular support for the constitutionally backsliding regimes in Hungary, Poland as well as elsewhere, we should start examining our own theoretical premises from which we have been observing and evaluating the developments in CEE. Perhaps, there is not everything wrong with CEE political and institutional developments?

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Judges under Attack in Hungary

Judges seem to irritate the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who likes to talk officially about “the judicial state” and irresponsible judges. Despite many problems with judicial autonomy and practice, judicial independence itself has remained relatively intact from overt political influence so far. More precisely: the governing party and its friends could not completely rely on the courts to get favorable decisions. For example, governmental bodies have regularly lost cases initiated by civil legal organizations for the release of public information. That, however, might change after Orbán’s latest electoral victory.

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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.

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"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.

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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