17 May 2013

Viktor Orbán and Hungary’s Constitution

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is no stranger to controversy. Still in his 20s when the communist régime was phased out in his native Hungary, he organized the Alliance of Young Democrats, known in its abbreviated form as Fidesz, now the ruling party in that country. Originally libertarian, Fidesz changed its orientation in the mid-1990s in a conservative direction, leading to its eventual expulsion from the Liberal International (the world federation of liberal and progressive political parties). Fidesz now allies itself with the European People’s Party in the larger European context, and currently enjoys a two-thirds majority in Parliament along with its coalition partner, the Christian Democratic People’s Party.

This parliamentary supermajority has invited much of the criticism leveled at Orbán’s government. Critics, including the European Union, the Council of Europe, and even the United States, have charged him with using this overwhelming power to cripple the opposition and thereby subvert Hungarian democracy.

What has Orbán done? His most significant act has been the adoption of a new constitution, the Fundamental Law. While the other former communist states of eastern Europe adopted new constitutions shortly after the old regimes collapsed, Hungary continued for two more decades under its 1949 constitution. Once Fidesz returned to power with such overwhelming popular support, Orbán adopted a fresh constitution, which took effect at the beginning of last year.

Read the full article here.

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