Kim Lane Scheppele Misleading on Hungary’s Legal Reforms

2013. április 18. 9:20
Miklós Szánthó | Péter Törcsi
Paprika Politik
Scheppele overstates her case against Hungary’s current legal order with inaccurate information and irresponsible accusations.

„Scheppele also states that «Fidesz never said it would change the whole constitutional system.» First of all, the new government and Parliament did not change the constitutional system as a whole. The system remained a chancellor-type democracy (as in Germany) based on division of powers. According to Scheppele, in the Hungarian political system legislative and executive powers are only formally separated, but surely a scholar of her experience should know that this type of constitutional system, where the political and legal power of a government is based on its majority in the Parliament, is common in continental Europe. Otherwise, it would be a presidential or half-presidential system, where the power of the head of state would come from a direct popular mandate. The new Hungarian Fundamental Law did not empower Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in such a way, and rightly so.

Secondly, prior to the 2010 Fidesz-KDNP electoral victory that swept the Socialist party out of power, Orbán publically stated on several occasions the need for drastic Constitutional reform. For example, in November 2009 he declared: «Hungary needs a new Constitution.» On this same issue, the Socialists’ 2010 campaign focused on the fear of a possible Fidesz supermajority. The likelihood of constitutional reform was openly acknowledged by both main parties prior to the 2010 elections. It is disingenuous to suggest that Fidesz surprised Hungarian voters or legal observers by actually going ahead with the constitutional reform it had promised once in the majority. Indeed, since voters handed Fidesz an unprecedented two-thirds majority, it could be more easily argued that Orbán’s reforms enjoyed a clear democratic mandate for such reforms.”

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