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PM Orbán tables constitutional amendments

October 15th, 2016

As the Hungarian Prime Minister submits the draft of constitutional amendments to Parliament in order to pre-empt mandatory EU migrant redistribution, commentators wonder if and how Hungary’s “constitutional identity” should or could be protected by law.

The draft constitutional amendment submitted by PM Orbánon Monday stipulates that in order to protect Hungary’s “constitutional identity”, the state needs to protect Hungary’s territorial sovereignty, demographic make-up, basic rights and form of government, as allowed by EU law. As for migration and asylum, the draft states that Hungary has a duty to offer shelter to persecuted refugees, but nationals of non EU member countries can only be settled in the country according to procedures approved by the Hungarian Parliament.

In Magyar IdőkLászló Petrin agrees with PM Orbán on the need to protect Hungary’s constitutional identity including its language, culture and Christian heritage. The pro-government lawyer fears that without the constitutional entrenchment of the Hungarian identity, the cultural diversity advocated by left-wing liberals would undermine the foundations of society, which might result in ‘Weimarization’ and complete chaos. In conclusion, Petrin claims that the constitutional amendments proposed by PM Orbán will pre-empt any efforts by the EU to force migrants on Hungary.

In Magyar Nemzet, Beáta Bakó deems the proposed constitutional amendments obsolete and potentially in violation of EU law. The conservative lawyer thinks that the EU migrant quota system would distribute asylum applications, and thus Hungary could reject any of these applications even without any constitutional amendments as national law bars individuals who cross the border illegally from receiving asylum. Bakó also believes that the amendments clash with EU law. In an aside, she expresses concerns that the Hungarian government may in the future use the poorly defined concept of “constitutional identity” according to its own political interests.

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