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Liberal lawyer against restoring the old constitution

March 24th, 2012
A left-liberal jurist thinks the constitutional changes introduced by the right wing government should be rolled back, but advocates a brand new constitution, rather than restoring the previous one.

Everything must be started again from scratch,” Gábor Attila Tóth suggests in Szuverén. The young university lecturer, who is also an aide to veteran Constitutional Court judge István Kukorelli, agrees with the main common thesis of the disparate left-wing opposition forces, according to which the system that has been built in Hungary over the past almost two years is not a proper democracy. He says it is not a dictatorship, for there are parliamentary parties, public demonstrations and elections every four years. But neither is it, in his words, a democracy, for the set-up favours the governing forces in an electoral contest.

Tóth disagrees, nonetheless, with all those who think the new Fundamental Law should be abolished and the old constitution restored, once today’s opposition parties win the elections. On the contrary, he believes the rules on holding referenda should be tightened to counter populist moves. And he asks whether the old institutional set-up was at fault for letting Hungary sink into debt. He also mentions that those changes which have been made in the competence of the Constitutional Court, which are now so fiercely criticised, have been proposed for decades by leading experts in public law.

He admits that the left wing parties and movements disagree on many political and legal issues, but suggests that when they search for common ground, they should aim not at “restoring the old republic, but at building a new one.”

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