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Constitutional Court clears three of opposition parties' seven questions for referendum

Hungary's Constitutional Court has cleared three of seven referendum questions submitted by opposition parties Fidesz and KDNP last October, court chairman Mihály Bihari announced on Thursday.

The Court approved the referendum questions regarding farmland, hospital privatization and drug sales outside pharmacies as ones which can be put on a referendum. The Court decision confirmed a November decision by the National Election Committee (OVB) which declared the same three questions eligible. Fidesz and KDNP contested the OVB decision at the Constitutional Court.

The Court has rejected two of the questions outright, but resubmitted two others to the OVB for reconsideration. The three cleared questions are the following:

„Do you agree that healthcare institutions and hospitals should remain under state or municipal ownership?”;

„Do you agree that drugs should only be sold at pharmacies as they have been in the past?”; and

„Do you agree that family farmers should have the right of preemption when purchasing farmland under the regulations in force from June 15, 2005 under Act LV/1994?”

The parties will need to collect 200,000 signatures for each approved question to hold a binding referendum. The Court rejected two of the questions outright, but resubmitted two others to the OVB for reconsideration. The rejected questions are:

„Do you agree that pensioners should be allowed to work under the regulations in effect on October 23, 2006?”, and

„Do you agree that parliament should pass legislation to regulate - in addition to disciplinary and compensation liability - the special objective responsibility of the prime minister and members of the government for budget overshoots?”

The question „Do you agree that students in the state-subsidized higher education system should not have to pay tuition fees?” was resubmitted to the OVB for problems of content. The question „Do you agree that no visit fee should be charged for primary healthcare, dental services and specialist outpatient care?” was resubmitted because of problems with the question's form. (Bloomberg)