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House Speaker criticised for fining protesting MPs

November 21st, 2013

A veteran left-wing commentator admits that order and discipline are indispensable in parliament, but objects to extracting a substantial portion of the monthly salary of MPs as a form of punishment.

In Népszava, Tibor Várkonyi criticizes House Speaker László Kövér’s decision to impose heavy fines on female opposition MPs who appeared in the hall with black eye make-up on their faces to protest against the presence of a fellow MP who is on trial for severely beating his fiancée. József Balogh MP was forced first to leave the Fidesz parliamentary group, then the party itself, but has kept his seat in Parliament, and two MPs belonging to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition (DK) staged a performance on the gallery of the assembly hall urging him to renounce his mandate. Their demonstration was deemed unparliamentary by the Speaker who decided to subtract 150 thousand forints from their next monthly salaries. His decision was approved by the pro-government majority. Várkonyi concedes that it may be sometimes difficult to properly calibrate passion and debate with decency and discipline. Nor does he question the right of the Speaker to impose sanctions on offenders, in extreme cases. However, he doesn’t find anything extreme in a symbolic gesture by politicians belonging to small parties who do not have enough MPs to form a parliamentary group and are therefore practically doomed to a passive role during the sessions. The 89 year old columnist says he does not know of any noteworthy democracy where “the pay of deputies can be mutilated under any pretext whatsoever”.

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