A pro-government commentator trumpets the fact that Italian PM Renzi’s decision to lower the retirement age for judges has not been criticized as undemocratic by the European media and the EU, while a similar decision by Viktor Orbán three years ago provoked a harsh rebuke.
In 2011, Parliament ordered judges to retire at 62, the official age of retirement, provoking allegations that the government wanted to get rid of older judges who were more likely to have ties with the Socialists. Eventually the Hungarian Constitutional Court decided that the statute was unconstitutional. (See BudaPost July 24, 2012.)
In Magyar Nemzet, Anna Szabó considers the Italian case yet another example of double standards in the EU. The Fidesz government’s special levy on banks and the ”sector-specific crisis taxes” (on telecommunication providers) were similarly attacked. Yet these were later copied by other EU member countries without the Commission ringing the alarm bell. Now once again, no one seems to be bothered when Italy’s leftist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi decides as part of his reform package that judges should retire at the age of 70, while the retirement age will be further lowered to 66 in the next two years, she remarks, whereas Viktor Orbán’s similar move provoked the ire of the Venice Committee and EU Commissioner Viviane Reding. In the Italian case, providing more opportunity for younger judges is called a reform rather than discrimination or a blow to democracy, Szabó adds bitterly, while in Hungary “the old order has been restored” through the decision of the Constitutional Court, and veteran judges from the time “when most judges had to be party members” closed their ranks. The result, she says, is that a former Socialist MP has just been acquitted by a former Socialist candidate for the Constitutional Court, she concludes – a reference to former MSZP vice-chairman and former mayor of the 11th district of Budapest Gyula Molnár who was acquitted of a corruption charge by the Kúria (the Supreme Court) in May after being sentenced to 8 months in prison in the first instance six months before.