Executive and Legislative Organs of Hungary Disobey Court Rulings

Freedom of information is a heavily used tool of journalists and NGOs in Hungary, and a right protected by the courts and the Constitutional Court – but in some cases, even in very high profile cases, the process stops there. The judgement is not enforced, and the right to know remains theoretical and illusory, rather than practical or effective. Enforcement is increasingly eroded, which demonstrates the weakness of the Hungarian rule of law state.

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The Four Elements of the Autocrats’ Playbook

There is truth in the old maxim proclaiming the imperative to try to get to know your enemies well. We outline four key techniques deployed by the autocratic regimes in Poland and Hungary in order to consolidate the constitutional capture and massive assault on European values and take a look at some of the elements of each of the four.

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Beyond the Spectacle: The European Parliament’s Article 7 TEU Decision on Hungary

Emotions were high and voices loud while and after the European Parliament adopted its decision to trigger an art. 7 TEU procedure against Hungary this week. Once the dust settles, it might be helpful and disillusioning to look at the possible consequences, the collateral damages and the side-effects of the European Parliament’s art. 7 TEU decision.

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How to Stop Funding Autocracy in the EU

The EU finds itself in the perverse situation of providing some of the largest transfers of funds precisely to those governments who most prominently thumb their nose at its democratic and rule-of-law norms. The legal debate about this misses the fact that the EU already has a sufficient legal basis to suspend the flow of funds to states in which rule-of-law norms are systematically violated. The real problem to date has not been the lack of adequate legal tools, but the lack of political will on the part of the European Commission to use the tools that already exist.

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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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