Hungarian president presents proposals for new constitution

Hungarian president Pál Schmitt has formulated six proposals for clauses to be included in the new constitution.

Mr Schmitt proposed that the new constitution should include clauses on life-long learning, the protection of families and children and support for sport (Schmitt himself is a former Olympic gold medal winner and former chairman of the Hungarian Olympian committee). More prominent – and possibly also more controversial – are his propositions concerning the preservation of the Hungarian language, a passage on the role of the Holy Crown and reference to Christianity.

The Hungarian government  – consisting entirely of the Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) and holding a 2/3 majority in the assembly – had convened a committee for drafting of a new constitution shortly after their election in March this year. The new constitution – which is planned to be finished by March 2011 – is to include some additional, merely symbolic elements but will probably also change the existing institutional arrangements. Hereby, the abolition of the existing constructive vote of no-confidence and the limitation of the powers of the constitutional court (currently one of the strongest in the world) lie at the heart of the reforms. Especially the latter – already partly implemented by a constitutional amendment passed last week that limited the courts ability to void budget-related laws – has recently been criticised by both the president of the constitutional court, Péter Paczolay, and former Hungarian president László Sólyom. Other changes will include an increase in citizens’ influence on legislation and adjustments to the status of the Hungarian central bank.

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