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“Clash of civilizations” continues over new constitution

May 3rd, 2011

Viktor Orbán must fall” philosopher János Kis tells the leftist weekly 168 Óra, “before the new Constitution can be repaired”.  Kis, now a professor at the Central European University in Budapest, was a respected dissident leader during the last decade of communism in Hungary, then founding president of the liberal Party of Free Democrats in 1988. He left his party in 2002 but remains an undisputed authority among left wing liberals.

In an interview with Attila Buják he calls the new Basic Law signed by President Pál Schmitt on Easter Monday a one party Constitution. According to Kis, the “Christian-national outlook” imprinted on the document rules out the general acceptance needed to give it the legitimacy it needs. “Even authoritative right wing personalities were horrified,” he continues, “by what the new Basic Law did to the Constitutional Court and the autonomy of judges”. In addition, „the parliamentary majority has enshrined its policy priorities… into the Constitution, making it impossible for future governments…. to implement their programmes without the consent of the opposition”.  „In the long run, the country cannot live with his (Mr Orbán’s) Constitution,” Kis predicts. But since future governments are unlikely to repeat Fidesz’s control of two thirds of the votes in Parliament, only Orban’s eventual replacement as leader of the right wing in Hungary will clear the way for the Basic Law to be amended.

“In twenty years’ time, history textbooks will not relate the story of the Easter Constitution in such terms of scorn and hatred as are uttered today by what remains of a deflated Socialist Party,” – writes Zsuzsanna Körmendy, in an editorial in the leading pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet. “No matter what kind of adventurer may come to power, he will not be able to increase the public debt beyond all limits, like (former socialist Prime Minister Ferenc) Gyurcsány did, because he will be prevented from doing so by the Basic Law.”

In an obvious reference to János Kis and to German Social Democrat  Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist MEPs, and a vocal critic of the new Basic Law, she writes “The words and conspiracies of Mr Little (kis means little), Mr Nagy (Big), Herr Schulz, or Mrs Smith will fade with time.”

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