New Hungarian Constitution Limits Democratic Practices, Says Washington Post Editorial Board
January 10, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
Enacted January 1, 2012, Hungary’s new constitution limits the country’s democratic and financial capabilities, according to an editorial piece written by the Washington Post Editorial Board. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his right-wing party supported the constitutional changes, which passed with a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian legislature. Although European governments and the United States have expressed their concern for the authoritarian nature of these reforms, Orbán continued to dismiss criticism, the Editorial Board stated.
The article analyzes the recent constitutional and legislative changes enacted in Hungary, and the Washington Post Editorial Board views the increasing power of Orbán as cause for concern. Orbán has granted full replacement rights and case assignments of the 270 judges recently forced to retire to a handpicked colleague. The Prime Minister has also created a new media control board, which denied a license for the opposition radio station.
According to the Editorial Board, Hungary’s financial institutions are also at stake. Although the country has been on the edge of insolvency, new reforms will both relinquish the independence of the central bank and institute a flat tax system. Additionally, many churches, Jewish organizations and all Muslim groups will lose eligibility for tax-exemptions. Orbán has scheduled a meeting with the International Monetary Fund, which may determine the feasibility of the financial reforms.
The Editorial Board concludes that it is not only necessary to pressure the Orbán administration on fiscal reforms but also on the limitation of citizens’ human rights, which includes the freedom of religious expression and political representation. Checks and balances among the branches of government, necessary for a functioning democracy, have been systematically eliminated. Additionally, the article warns that Hungary may follow the path of Russia or Belarus if the Prime Minister’s power, as well as that of his Fidesz party, is left unchecked. Furthermore, the Editorial Board questions the viability of the Hungarian reforms and new constitution within the framework of the European Union, which requires both central bank independence and respect for rights of the judiciary and religious organizations.
For previous news on Hungary, please see:
Veteran Hungarian Dissidents Issue a New Year’s Message On Orbán Government
Washington Post - “Hungary’s Rush Toward Autocracy”