The Bantam Shows His Spurs

12199888891040970440rooster.svg.hiMinister of Public Administration and Justice Tibor Navracsics submitted two amendments to Hungary’s Fundamental Law (constitution) to the National Assembly on June 14: the amendments are intended to neutralize the European Commission’s objections to stipulations, passed as part of the Fourth Amendment to the Law, that enable the government to levy special taxes to pay for fines imposed by the European Court of Justice and Hungary’s Constitutional Court (or any other court) and authorizing the president of the National Judicial Office (Országos Bírósági Hivatal) to reassign cases from one court to another. The Ministry of Public Administration and Justice told the Hungarian News Agency MTI that the government is still considering the European Commission’s objection to the provision of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law banning political advertising on private broadcast-media during election campaigns.

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Speaking during one of his one of his regular Friday-morning interviews on the state-run Kossuth Radio program “180 Minutes” earlier in the day, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán  made the following comments regarding the above amendments to the Fundamental Law (audio/video of interview in Hungarian):

These amendments should not be necessary. These constitutional amendments are in total harmony with European values and the practices of other European countries. Here the European Union is abusing its power. It is asking things from us that it should not be able to ask for and it is expecting things from us that it does not expect from others. There is transfer of cases between courts in other European countries as well. At the same time, Hungary is fighting battles on many fronts, we can say struggles for freedom. On the utility front, the multinational tax, the bank tax. In other words, establishing the equitable distribution of the public burden comes to the forefront as well. The entire energy system in general, cheaper costs, utility-fee cuts for people—this entails an enormous number of conflicts. And I had to make the decision, that is, the government—the members of the government—had to make the joint decision about what we should do in this situation. And we decided to accommodate demands that violate Hungary’s sovereignty, in my opinion. And the other side isn’t even correct from a substantive point of view. Though since for us the struggle isn’t taking place for the sake of struggle, but for the sake of Hungary and the sake of people and for this reason is worthwhile, it is occasionally necessary to make concessions. This isn’t an ideological question. If the interest of the country demands that we accept an unwarranted EU decision stemming from the abuse of power then—although it naturally makes our teeth grind—I think that the country is better off if we implement this constitutional amendment. I don’t want to make a secret of the fact that this triggered a huge debate within Fidesz. Within Fidesz there are many steadfastly committed believers in national sovereignty and Fidesz rejects such injustices, abuse of power and double standards out of principle as well. I had to convince a lot of people that, though they are right, it is still in the interest of the county that we implement this constitutional amendment.

The prime minister either intentionally or unintentionally gave expression to the complete degree of control he exercises over FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party government policy when he stated that “I had to make the decision, that is, the government—the members of the government—had to make the joint decision.” The prime minister’s words regarding the amendments to the Fundamental Law come from the final fifth of the interview, most of which dealt with the recent flooding on the Danube River. 

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