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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Integrated Research Institue "Law & Society"

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Juristische Fakultät | Integrated Research Institue "Law & Society" | Veranstaltungen | Gastvorlesungen | The Hungarian Constitutional Crisis and European Constitutional Standards

The Hungarian Constitutional Crisis and European Constitutional Standards


It is not an exaggeration to talk of a „constitutional crisis“ in Hungary. The country is extremely polarized and split between two political camps. The ruling coalition of the national conservative FIDESZ and KDNP parties, which holds a 2/3 majority in parliament, face a fragmented opposition composed of the post-socialist MSZP, the green-liberal LMP and the right-wing extremist Jobbik party.Faced with the effects of the economic crisis, but also motivated by a distinctive political agenda, the Hungarian government headed by Victor Orbán has taken drastic measures recently, relying on their super-majority in parliament. The parliamentary majority changed the constitutional regulation of the nomination process of the Constitutional Justices so as to avoid the need of consensus on the candidates. When the Constitutional Court declared one of the tax laws of the new Government unconstitutional, the Constitution was amended again seriously limiting the competence of the Court, taking away its jurisdiction over budgetary and tax issues. The government has also announced to write a new constitution and pass it with the current majority in parliament, explicitly avoiding a referendum. Instead of seeking for consensus, the current draft includes highly controversial provisions on the identity of the Hungarian nation and weakens independent constitutional institutions.Against the background of Hungary's membership in the European Union and its 2011 EU Council Presidency, the Hungarian situation poses more general questions about common European standards of constitutionalism and democracy: is it legitimate for a government backed by a large electoral majority to weaken constitutional safeguards of the separation of powers? Is the Hungarian government simply trying to cope with external pressures, while implementing the „will of the people“? Or are we witnessing a systematic dismantling of constitutional democracy, as some opponents claim?The presentations will report on the current situation and put it into the European context, discussing the relationship between national constitutional law, Central European developments, and standards of constitutionalism in Europe.