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Government: New constitution changes to soothe EU fears

Government

The Hungarian government proposed new changes to its controversial constitution Friday that it said should calm European Union fears that basic rights are being eroded in the former communist country. “The government wants to do away with those ... problems which have served as an excuse for attacks on Hungary,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

The proposal tweaks passages in the constitution covering election campaigning, official church status and the judiciary, among others: all issues that have drawn international criticism, especially from the EU. The statement said the amendment takes into account the opinions and recommendations of both the European Commission and the Venice Commission, an advisory body to the Council of Europe.

One week ago, the softened changes were announced, with the government’s official website explaining in similar fashion to this most recent statement that the changes were made in order to avoid “constitution-related matters [becoming a] pretext for attacks on Hungary.” 

Critics have charged that the new constitution, passed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing government after its arrival in power in 2010, allows the government to wield too much power, override Constitutional Court decisions and threaten basic rights.

Assuming this latest round of amendments passes parliament with the two-thirds majority vote, it would mark the fifth time the Orbán Administration has made changes to the national constitution.

– Written by Gábor Pákozdi and David Landry

 

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