Constitution – Opposition sceptical about new basic law

Budapest, February 11 (MTI) – Opposition parties have expressed varying degrees of scepticism about Hungary’s new constitution under preparation, while Fidesz’s partner in the centre-right government, the Christian Democrats, are pushing for a pro-life clause to be incorporated into the new basic law, an insistence which has ruffled the feathers of many Fidesz lawmakers.

President Pal Schmitt on Friday heard the standpoints of the parliamentary parties on the new constitution, which Fidesz wants parliament to approve by April 18.

    The Socialists see no need for the new constitution, Attila Mesterhazy, the party’s leader, told a news conference after meeting Schmitt.

    ”We do not support a political regime-change initiated by the prime minister,” he said.

    Radical nationalist Jobbik party will participate in the drafting process but is unlikely to vote for the constitution, Zoltan Balczo, Jobbik’s deputy parliamentary group leader, said. Jobbik has “fundamental” objections to the principles of the constitution draft and the “whole chaotic process of drafting the constitution,” he said.

    Green party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) will decide on Saturday whether to take part in the drafting of the constitution, Andras Schiffer, the party’s parliamentary group leader, said. Tamas Meszerics, the party’s legal spokesman, said LMP was concerned about the “the approach of the prime minister and the government to constitutionalism”.

    Meanwhile the junior governing Christian Democrats are insisting on the inclusion of a pro-life clause and a passage on family values, Peter Harrach, the parliamentary group leader, said, insisting this would not have a bearing on abortion laws.

    Fidesz and the Christian Democrats are at loggerheads over the pro-life and family-protection passages.

    Harrach told journalists after he briefed the president that his party and its Fidesz ally would submit a joint draft of the constitution to parliament. He added that he had received guarantees from Fidesz at the meeting of the two parties in Siofok that “respect and protection for life, marriage and the family” would be included in the constitution’s text.

    At a meeting of the parliamentary groups of Fidesz and its allied Christian Democrats on Thursday, a committee for drafting the text of the constitution was established under the leadership of Fidesz MEP Jozsef Szajer. The committee will have two other members, Gergely Gulyas (Fidesz) and Laszlo Salamon (Christian Democrats).

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