Hungary’s New Constitution: Why We Worry

We, the undersigned legal experts and scholars from law, philosophy and the social sciences, endorse the following petition:

On April 18th the Hungarian Parliament will decide on the adoption of a new constitution for the Republic of Hungary. While we welcome the effort to create a new constitution for the country to overcome the technical deficiencies of the revised constitution of 1989, we consider the draft of the FIDESZ/KDNP coalition and the way it is adopted deeply disturbing.

The draft constitution

  • effectively abolishes large parts of constitutional review, possibly disabling the Constitutional Court as a politically independent body, gives leeway for the enactment of unconstitutional law and thereby undermines the rule of law,
  • declares the inconsistent and ideologically lopsided preamble and the legally undefinable „historical constitution” as binding for its interpretation, can be understood to delegitimize the entire constitutional law and jurisdiction of the last 20 years, and thus obviates any well grounded assertion of what the constitution actually says and thereby further undermines the rule of law,
  • severely restricts the scope of action of future governments unless they command a 2/3 majority,
  • has been written at the whim of the current government, is being enacted without both framework and time for proper deliberation and without sufficient participation by the opposition and the public and will therefore suffer from severe legitimacy deficiencies.

Hungary is not only a member state of the European Union, but an integral part of the European sphere of legal and constitutional culture. Hungarians have long struggled for their „Return to Europe“. Based on the existing constitution, Hungary’s world-renowned Constitutional Court has made a rich contribution to European constitutionalism. We are deeply worried that, by passing this document, Hungary risks its reputation as a model of a new constitutional democracy rising from an authoritarian regime. Following the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, we appeal to the leaders of the coalition parties FIDESZ and KDNP, particularly to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, to refrain from enforcing a hastened decision and imposing a insufficiently legitimate constitution on their country. Instead, we urge to use the opportunity to draft and pass a document that can unite Hungarians and does not divide them. We call for a constitution that, by providing clear legal concepts instead of historical symbolism in legal form, can serve as the foundation of a constitutional state based on legal certainty and the rule of law. Finally, Hungary deserves a constitution that preserves, and not limits, the functions of its guardian, the Constitutional Court, one of the most trusted institutions in the country.

Signed (5/01, 9:00 pm MEZ):

  1. Antal ÁDÁM, University of Pécs, Hungary
  2. Wolf ALBIN, Attorney-at-Law, Berlin, Germany
  3. Andrew ARATO, New School for Social Research, New York, USA
  4. Judit BAYER, King Sigismund College, Budapest, Hungary
  5. Jochen VON BERNSTORFF, Max-Planck-Institute Heidelberg & University Göttingen, Germany
  6. Adam BODNAR, Warsaw University, Poland
  7. Christian BOULANGER, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  8. David R. BOYD, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  9. Eva BREMS, Ghent University, Belgium
  10. Nora CHRONOWSKI, University of Pecs, Hungary
  11. Monica CLAES, Maastricht University, Netherlands
  12. Mihály CSÁKÓ, John Wesley Theological College and ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  13. Justus von DANIELS, Cardozo School of Law, New York, USA
  14. Balázs DÉNES, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Budapest, Hungary
  15. Tímea DRINÓCZI, University of Pécs, Hungary
  16. Catherine DUPRÉ, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  17. David DYZENHAUS, University of Toronto, Canada
  18. Dirk FABRICIUS, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany
  19. Agata FIJALKOWSKI, Lancaster University, United Kingdom
  20. Zoltan FLECK, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  21. Andreas FUNKE, University of Cologne, Germany
  22. Claudio FRANZIUS, University of Hamburg, Germany
  23. Siri GLOPPEN, University of Berge & Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway
  24. Marcin GÓRSKI, University of Łódź, Poland.
  25. Marie-Pierre GRANGER, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  26. Christoph GUSY, Bielefeld University, Germany
  27. Balázs GYENIS, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  28. Tamás GYÖRFI, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  29. Gábor HALMAI, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary,
  30. Dominik HANF, College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium
  31. Helen E. HARTNELL, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, USA
  32. Wolf HEYDEBRAND, New York University, USA
  33. Kristina IRION, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  34. Ireneusz C. KAMINSKI, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  35. Ulrich KARPENSTEIN, Attorney-at-Law, Berlin, Germany
  36. Alexandra KEMMERER, Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, Germany
  37. János KIS, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  38. Sascha KNEIP, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Berlin, Germany
  39. Jan KOMAREK, London School of Economics, United Kingdom
  40. Atina KRAJEWSKA, School of Law, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  41. Helga KRISCH, Administrative Court, Berlin, Germany
  42. Mattias KUMM, Humbold University, Berlin, Germany and New York University, USA
  43. Johanna LÁSZLÓ, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  44. Tamás LATTMANN, National Defense University and ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  45. Oliver W. LEMBCKE, University of Jena, Germany
  46. Patrick MACKLEM, University of Toronto, Canada
  47. Miguel Poiares MADURO, Professor, European University Institute
  48. Matthias MAHLMANN, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  49. Ernst Gottfried MAHRENHOLZ, Deputy President of the Constitutional Court (ret.), Karlsruhe, Germany
  50. Balázs MAJTÉNYI, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  51. László MAJTÉNYI, University of Miskolc, Hungary
  52. Susanna MANCINI, University of Bologna, Italy
  53. Stefan MARKUS, former Ambassador to Hungary, Slovakia
  54. Franz MAYER, University of Bielefeld, Germany
  55. Jeremy MCBRIDE, Monckton Chambers, Gray’s Inn, London, United Kingdom
  56. Zoltan MIKLÓSI, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  57. Christoph MOELLERS, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  58. Jan-Werner MUELLER, Princeton University, USA
  59. Odonkhu MUNKHSAIKAN, Nagoya University, Japan
  60. Andreas ORATOR, WU University of Business and Economics, Vienna, Austria
  61. Viktor OSIATYNSKI, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  62. András L. PAP, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  63. Vlad PERJU, Boston College Law School, USA
  64. Otto PFERSMANN, University Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris, France
  65. Ulrich K. PREUSS, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany
  66. Jiri PRIBAN, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
  67. István RÉV, Open Society Archives, Budapest, Hungary
  68. Michel ROSENFELD, President of the US Association of Constitutional Law, Cardozo School of Law, New York, USA
  69. Judit SANDOR, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  70. Aurel SARI, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  71. Martin SCHEININ, President of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), European Universit Institute
  72. Stefan SCHEPERS, director general of the European Institute of Public Administration (ret.)
  73. Kim Lane SCHEPPELE, Princeton University, USA
  74. Tibor SCHOBER, Attorney-at-Law, Berlin, Germany
  75. Kristina SCHOENFELDT, University of Freiburg, Germany
  76. Bernadette SOMODY, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  77. Grażyna SKAPSKA, Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Poland
  78. Maximilian STEINBEIS, Attorney-at-Law, Germany
  79. Máté Dániel SZABÓ, University of Miskolc, Hungary
  80. Sona SZOMOLANYI, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
  81. Christopher THORNHILL, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
  82. Gábor Attila TÓTH, Debrecen University, Hungary
  83. Johan VAN DER WALT, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
  84. Balázs VÁRADI, ELTE University,Budapest,Hungary
  85. Marton VARJU, University of Hull, UK & Central European University, Hungary
  86. Attila VINCZE, University of Hull, United Kingdom
  87. Beatrix VISSY, ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary
  88. Astrid WALLRABENSTEIN, Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany
  89. Meike WEISSPFLUG, RWTH Aachen, Germany
  90. Mattias WENDEL, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  91. Tim WIHL, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  92. Miroslaw WYRZYKOWSKI, Justice of the Constitutional Court (ret.) & Warsaw University, Poland
  93. Katarina ZAVACKA, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia

 

If you share our concern, please sign the petition by adding a comment with your name and institutional affiliation. Thank you.

 

202 Gedanken zu “Hungary’s New Constitution: Why We Worry

  1. Please add my name to the petition:

    Kim Lane Scheppele
    Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs
    Princeton University
    USA

  2. please add my name:

    Gábor Attila Tóth
    Constitutional lawyer
    Hungary

  3. Please, add my name:

    Alexandra Kemmerer
    Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany

  4. Please add my name.

    David Dyzenhaus
    Professor of Law and Philosophy
    Toronto

  5. Please add my name to the list.
    Central European University, Department of Public Policy, Budapest.

  6. Please, add my name.
    Andreas Funke
    Institute for Public International Law and Comparative Law, University of Cologne

  7. Please add my name to the list.
    Andreas Orator
    Institute for European and International Law, WU University of Business and Economics, Vienna, Austria

  8. Please add my name:

    Patrick Macklem
    William C. Graham Professor of Law
    University of Toronto

  9. Please add my name:

    Máté Dániel SZABÓ
    University of Miskolc, Hungary

  10. please add my name

    Bernadette Somody
    ELTE University
    Budapest, Hungary

  11. Please add my name to the petition:

    Oliver W. Lembcke
    Friedrich Schiller University
    Jena, Germany

  12. I support the statement

    Ireneusz C. Kamiński
    Institute of Legal Studies
    Polish Academy of Sciences
    Warsaw

    and Jagiellonian University
    Cracow
    Poland

  13. Please add my name

    Miguel Poiares Maduro
    Professor, European University Institute

  14. Please add my name to the petition.

    Christoffer Gruppe, Diplom-Jurist (Univeristy of Bonn)

  15. Please add my name:

    Mattias Kumm

    Research Professor for “Globalization and the Rule of Law”, Humboldt University and Social Science Research Center, Berlin
    Professor of Law, NYU School of Law, New York

  16. Please add my name.
    Dominik Hanf, Professor, College of Europe, Bruges

  17. Please add my name:

    Csonka István
    Törökszentmiklós, Magyarország SMT Programozó

  18. Please add my name:

    Nóra Chronowski
    University of Pécs, Hungary

  19. Please add my name:

    Helen Hartnell
    Professor, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California

  20. Please add my name:

    Sascha Kneip
    Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Berlin, Germany

  21. Please add my name

    Jeremy McBride, Monckton Chambers, Gray’s Inn, London

  22. Please add my name too:

    MARCIN GÓRSKI, Attorney-at-Law, Associate Professor, Department of European Constitutional Law, University of Łódź, Poland.

  23. I am stronly supporting this petition

    Grazyna Skapska
    Institute of Sociology
    Jagiellonian University
    Grodzka Str. 52
    31-044 Kraków POLNAN

  24. I am not a constutional scholar, but the changes to the existing constitution that you describe sound to me like an effort to make certain states of exception permanent. If that is the case, the Hungarian government should be held to a stricter standard of democratic legitimacy.

  25. The proposed changes are very concerning. strongly support this petition.

  26. The proposed changes are very concerning. strongly support this petition.

    School of Law
    University of Exeter
    Exeter, UK

  27. please, add my name too

    Claudio Franzius, Universität Hamburg

  28. Highly ideological and emotional, mostly anti-liberal, extremely vague and undetermined, strongly philo-executive, this draft is not a new beginning, but a mythical return to an uncertain past.
    Please add my name to the petition.

    Otto Pfersmann, Professor at the University Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne

  29. Please add my name:

    Stephan Biagosch
    Attorney-at-Law
    Munich, Germany

  30. Please add my name

    Antal Ádám
    professor emeritus
    University of Pécs, Hungary

  31. University of Freiburg
    Institut für Staatswissenschaft und Rechtsphilosophie
    Abteilung 3 (Völkerrecht)

  32. I have read the above. I am not and never have been a lawyer in any shape or form.
    In thr blog ‘Hungarian Spectrum’ its author Prof Balogh reports “A good example is a paragraph in the constitution that forbids the government from changing the present tax system.”
    ‘Hells bells and buckets of blood’!! This clause denies the people the right to change their taxes! If if this is true then it denies the people their fundamental democratic rights.

  33. Please add my name:

    Helga Krisch

    Berlin Administrative Court

  34. Please add my name:

    Katarina Zavacka
    Institute of State and Law,
    Slovak Academy of Sciences

  35. Please add my name in support of this

    Sona Szomolanyi
    Professor of Political Science
    Comenius University Bratislva

  36. Please add my name in support of this

    Franz Mayer
    Universität Bielefeld

  37. After reading the proposed changes, I really worry about the future of one of the most successful constitutional courts in post-communist countries, and Hungarian democracy in general. I, therefore, strongly support this petition. Please add my name in it.

    Munkhsaikhan Odonkhuu
    PhD Candidate
    Graduate School of Law
    Nagoya University, Japan

  38. Please add my name.
    Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Psychology of Law
    Goethe-University
    Frankfurt

  39. I cannot judge the content of the proposed amendment (is it available in English or French somewhere?), but the process of its adoption described in the Venice Commission’s Report is worrying. Please add my name to the petition.
    Jan Komárek
    lecturer in EU law
    LSE

  40. I support the petition.
    This is deeply worrying.

    Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Berge

    Research director Chr.Michelsen Institute

  41. I am signing the petition in my academic capacity and will report this on 28 April at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Constitutional Law where I serve as President.

  42. Please add my name.
    Dr. David R. Boyd
    Adjunct Professor
    Simon Fraser University
    Canada

  43. Please add my name.

    Jan-Werner Mueller
    Associate Professor of Politics,
    Princeton University, USA

  44. Pingback: bloggingportal.eu Blog & Support » Blog Archive » The Week in Bloggingportal: Europe in Tryptichs

  45. I support this statement.

    Wiktor Osiatynski
    CEU Legal Studies Department,
    Budapest, Hungary

  46. Please add my name:

    Tímea Drinóczi
    University of Pécs, Hungary

  47. Please add my name:

    Balázs Váradi
    ELTE University,Budapest,Hungary

  48. Please add my name
    László Majtényi DSc.
    University of Miskolc, Hungary

  49. nyugdíjas ujságíró, Hungary
    Jogainkból kegyelemkenyér lesz, ez tu”rhetetlen

  50. Please add my name:

    Beatrix Vissy
    ELTE University
    Budapest, Hungary

  51. I support the petition,
    please, add my name

    Konkoly Observatory, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

  52. Political Sciences
    Corvinus University Budapest

    Please add my name

  53. Please add my name

    Monica Claes
    Professor of European and Comparative Constitutional Law
    Maastricht University
    The Netherlands

  54. I am not a constitutional scholar but it is clear from the very beginning and from the accompanying actions (e.g., populistic government questionary) that this constitution seriously contributes to the ongoing undermining of the democratic system in Hungary.

  55. Affiliation: Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest

  56. University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

    Please ad my name to the petition

  57. ÖSSZEGZÉS

    Orbán Viktor miniszterelnök és népi zenekara ellen

    Huszonegy éve váltottunk rendszert,
    gazdaságot, hitet és emberséget,
    gondolkodtunk, nem ragadtunk fegyvert.

    Békességben szavaztuk meg a véget:
    még részünk volt a szocializált
    magas kultúra, öntudatos élet.

    Orbán Oxfordban liberalizált
    politikát s bölcseletet más pénzén
    tanult, tudatos volt, szépen kivárt…

    Divatozott: polgári az érték,
    fiatalsága népszerű volt, fürdött
    benne s vágyait tűzte ki célként.

    Médiánk mára szócsövévé züllött,
    befolyásolt, törtetett, megosztott,
    minden ellenzékit padlóra küldött.

    Amihez ér, az rögvest bemocskolt,
    csal keresztényt, demokratát, fajtáját,
    csak a nyomor problémája foszlott.

    Nézni is utálom önhitt pofáját,
    parlamentbe vitte – meglátjátok,
    fejébe nyomja István koronáját.

    Huszonegy éve nyomorgok, várok,
    a remény csak új ábrándokat adott,
    most a jövő már nem több, csak átok.

    Nincs már baloldal, nincs közép, csak a jobb:
    olyan, mint hátunkban a tőrszúrás.
    Gyilkos vagy – a demokrácia halott.

    Bár inkább te lennél az, te Júdás!

    Budapest, 2011. Április 18

  58. please add me

    Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
    New York
    USA

  59. Please, add my name:

    Agnes Harkai
    University of Szeged
    Szeged
    Hungary

  60. Please add my name

    Bence Simonfalvi
    Architect
    Budapest, Hungary

  61. Please add my name

    Nóra Esti
    Waldorfpedagógus
    Budapest, Hungary

  62. Please add my name:
    György C. Kálmán
    Institute for Literary Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

  63. Please add my name:
    David Lovas
    Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest

  64. Ez az alkotmány szöveg legalább 9 ponton nemzetközi szerződéseinkkel is ütközik! Teljes egészében elfogadhatatlan – parambelumostól – a szabadság korlátozó hatása!

  65. Please, support our cause! Any kind of support counts, even the smallest. If you are member of the media: you know what you need to do! If you want to donate a tiny amount of money it would be very much appreciated as well.

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

    We share all the details on our spendings after each protest, feel free to check our blog: http://freepress.blog.hu/ (The English blog itself is a little bit messy still, but we are working on it. You are very welcome to comment and share any constructive criticism there!)

  66. Please, support our cause! Any kind of support counts, even the smallest. If you are member of the media: you know what you need to do! If you want to donate a tiny amount of money it would be very much appreciated as well.

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

    Sorry for repeating myself… just to have both links in one comment, let me add this:

    http://freepress.blog.hu/2011/04/19/please_support_our_demonstrations

    We share all the details on our spendings after each protest, feel free to check our blog: http://freepress.blog.hu/ (The English blog itself is a little bit messy still, but we are working on it. You are very welcome to comment and share any constructive criticism there!)

  67. Please add my name.

    Vlad Perju
    Associate Professor
    Boston College Law School
    USA

  68. Everybody have to remember for 18th april, when they killed and died the third Hungarian Republic !

  69. Nem az én nevemben alkotmányoztak !!! Intellektuális nyomor !!!

  70. Geographical Research Institute Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

  71. I lived in Budapest last year during the elections. This new constitution manifests the worst possible scenario we imagined back then. I’m deeply worried about the democratic future of Hungary.

    David Christian Berg

    Reasearcher at Clausthal UT, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany

  72. Die EU sollte bedenken, ob sie einem Staat weiterhin die Mitgliedschaft gewährt, dessen neue Verfassung das für sie geltende Rechtsstaatsprinzip negiert.
    Ich unterstütze den Aufruf.

  73. Please add me to the list

    Judith Schwedes
    Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany

  74. The developments in Hungary are as disturbing as the still inadequate reaction of the European Union…

    I support the petition.

    Stundent of political science and philosophy
    University of Freiburg, Germany

  75. Please add my name –
    Zsuzsanna Lippai
    American University, Washington, DC, USA

  76. thank you for this initiative to save the values of freedom and democracy in europe, which are obviously in danger not only in hungary.

  77. please add my name to the list. Freedom of speech must stay a legal right of everyone

  78. thank you for doing this blog. What happens in Hungary is another evidence of a stealthy elemination of democracy in Europe and we should all be very alarmed!

  79. Az alkotmány megszünt.Ez ami ma aláirásra került, pártalkotmány, türhetetlen.

  80. I support the petition!

    Eva Brems
    Professor, Human Rights Centre, Ghent University, Belgium
    and Member of the Belgian Parliament

  81. As former director general of the European Institute of Public Administration, I support your petition because this is a worrying development for the whole European Union.

  82. It is very sad what is happening in Hungary. I teach constitutional law for more than 20 years at the Robert Schuman Institute at Budapest and witnesses the constitutional development in Eastern Europe. This is a big step back!

  83. Please add my name to this Petition.

    Matthias W. Birkwald (Köln)
    Member of the German Parliament
    Left Party parliamentary group – DIE LINKE.

  84. Please add my name. I support the petition.
    Gregor Hofmann
    Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany

  85. Please add my name. I support the petition.
    Susanna Mancini
    Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law
    School of Law, University of Bologna, Italy

  86. Please add my name. I support the petition.
    Susanna Mancini
    Professor of Public Comparative Law
    School of Law
    University of Bologna, Italy

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