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Government won’t negotiate anti-terror amendment

February 3rd, 2016

A prestigious political analyst believes the planned amendment has no chance of going through, and thus he suspects it is part of a PR campaign. A pro-government columnist is convinced that the existing legal provisions would prove insufficient in the event of a genuine terror threat.

A government spokesman announced on Saturday that the draft constitutional amendment on the planned special state of emergency in case of terror threats will be submitted to Parliament in its original form. After having studied objections and counterproposals by opposition parties, he said, the government had decided to stick to its own draft. (See BudaPost, January 25)

Political analyst Gábor Török admits that he was originally in two minds about the intentions of the government regarding the constitutional amendment. He could not decide, he writes on his Facebook page,  whether decision makers seriously thought that Hungary needed such a very special state of emergency in its constitutional arsenal (version one) or whether they were intent on scoring further points in their communication battle with the opposition (version two). The government side would have only needed a few votes from the opposition to secure the two thirds required in Parliament for a constitutional amendment to pass, and two opposition parties, Jobbik and LMP were ready to negotiate a compromise.  Moreover, Török believes, such a compromise might have been”perhaps reached at the price of only a little effort.” If the government decided to submit the draft without such a preliminary agreement, he concludes, “version two” remains the only possible conclusion to the analyst’s dilemma.

On Mozgástér, Miklós Szánthó enumerates the kinds of states of emergency provided by the constitutional setup and believes that none of them would fit a typical terror threat. War, rebellion, civil war, threat of foreign aggression, natural or industrial calamities are properly dealt with by the legal framework, but a terror threat is a different matter and in case Hungary has to face it one day, there would be no time to start discussing whether the existing provisions can be applied, Szánthó argues. He summarizes the arguments against the planned amendment as being based on human right considerations, and recalls that the same sort of arguments were voiced against Hungary’s decision to build a fence along its southern borders to stop the migrant flow. Now fences are being erected and migrants are being turned back from many border crossings throughout Europe, he writes, before asking a rhetorical question: “Who was right then?”

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