Sunday 31 July 2011

The Constitution of Hungary and the Seven Lost Years

New constitution: What is left as it is is worse than what is changed

“The functioning of the Hungarian State shall be based on the principle of division of powers” - says the new Hungarian constitution (the “Fundamental Law”) in its Article C thereby codifying what is usually regarded as the heart of a democratic political regime. Although the old constitution (which remains in force until the end of 2011) did not contain such an explicit declaration, the doctrine of division of powers has been acknowledged by the Hungarian Constitutional Court as a basic – albeit implicit – principle of the Hungarian constitutional system ever since the early 1990s. Considering that the new Fundamental Law changes little on the institutional structure of the Hungarian governmental system, one has to conclude that the Hungarian system of public law will be characterized by the principle of division of powers just as much from next year on as it was under the old constitution.

But does this characterisation in fact apply?