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Constitutional amendments criticised

March 12th, 2013

In a bitter comment just hours before the controversial constitutional amendments were to be passed by Parliament, a moderate right-wing commentator suggested that Hungary cannot afford to confront European institutions over such issues of secondary importance.

In Heti Válasz online, halfway between two weekly paper editions, Bálint Ablonczy calls the latest amendments to the Basic Law “a public law lasagne,” adding that “ the absence of horse meat is little consolation,” for their deficiencies.

He suggests that the procedure itself is insulting and revolting for some important groups of society and is thereby damaging to the parliamentary majority itself, but what is more important it hurts the prestige of the law. The brand new Basic Law has been amended four times within a single year and most of the changes refer to issues of secondary importance that should have no place in a constitution. If the governing parties have not yet lost their sense of reality, they should realise the danger signal inherent in a swift series of negative international reactions, including statements by the Council of Europe, the German Foreign Ministry, the European Commission and the State Department. “It is not as if blatant interference and double standards were not upsetting enough,” Ablonczy concedes. But Hungary has confronted influential international bodies too often. Sometimes she was right, the commentator thinks, for instance when she imposed special taxes on banks and multinationals. But other times those confrontations were “completely useless,” for instance in the case of the Media Act (See BudaPost 2011 through 2012). Ablonczy fears the West might think that the Hungarian government only understands the language of sanctions, and warns that the continued flow of EU development funds is incomparably more important for Hungary than the student contracts (See BudaPost January through February 2013) or the Church regulations (See BudaPost, March 5) contained in the proposed amendments.