Hungarian opposition remains sceptical about new constitution

Hungarian president Pal Schmitt in Budapest on January 8, 2011 © Európai Bizottság/Dudás Szabolcs

Hungarian opposition parties remain sceptical about the new constitution currently drafted by the Fidesz-government. A coordination meeting initiated by president Pal Schmitt showed, however, that parties are far from being united in their specific criticism.

The president had invited all parties to talks about the new constitution which the government plans to pass in parliament on April 10, 2011. The official reason for summoning the meeting was to coordinate parties’ participation in the final stages of the drafting process but one could argue that president Schmitt wanted to give the process – which until now is dominated entirely by Fidesz, the party of prime minister Orban – a more democratic face. All parties present voiced their concerns about the draft but also the process itself. While smaller parties such as the Christian democrats (a junior coalition partner) fight for specific issues (in the case at hand the inclusion of a ‘pro-life’ clause, which is strongly opposed by Fidesz), the leader of the Socialist party declared that he generally did not see a reason for drafting a new constitution.

The new constitution is a highly debated subject since the Hungarian general elections last year. Opposition representatives fear that the government will try to manifest its current 2/3 majority with the new document, the LMP-party even withdrew from the committee drafting the constitution as they regarded several government plans as irreconcilable with the spirit of the old constitution and prevalent democratic practice in Hungary. Even though the government disposes of enough seats in the assembly to pass the new constitution without support from opposition parties, prime minister Orban has to do everything he can to convince opposition parties to vote in favour. If not, the government is at risk to be criticised even more for its alleged authoritarian tendencies as it was the case with the new Hungarian media law.

See also:
Hungarian president presents proposals for new constitution

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