Hungary backtracks on reform after EU pressure
Hungary’s Parliament has approved changes to the constitution, removing restrictions on political media campaigns ahead of next year’s election and backtracking on other legal aspects the European Union has said may conflict with its principles.
The EU, the United States and human rights groups have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government of using constitutional amendments to limit the powers of Hungary’s top court and weaken democracy in the country.
Lawmakers late on Monday approved the amendments drafted by the government after the European Commission threatened to take legal action against the steps, some of which it said could run against EU norms. The amendments will allow political parties to run campaigns in both state-funded and private media ahead of parliamentary and European Parliament elections due next year, removing a prior restriction for such adverts to state outlets only. But the law still says such advertisements must be published free of charge.
The amendments also remove a constitutional provision enabling the government to launch new taxes due to “unexpected payment obligations” brought on by international court rulings on public finances, a clause that the European Commission had flagged as particularly worrisome.
– Written by Gábor Pákozdi
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