Parliament approves amendment on constitutional changes

Budapest, November 10 (MTI) – Hungary’s parliament on Wednesday approved an amendment to the governing Fidesz party’s bill on restricting the powers of the Constitutional Court on budget-related laws.

Janos Lazar, the Fidesz group leader, submitted a proposal to restrict the Constitutional Court’s scope of jurisdiction over budget-related matters after the court annulled a law to introduce 98 percent tax on severance pay above 2 million forints.

    The amendment submitted by the constitutional committee was approved by lawmakers with 261 votes in favour and 96 votes against.

    Under the approved amendment, the Constitutional Court’s scope of jurisdiction will be restricted to a lesser degree than originally proposed by Fidesz.     

    The court will only have the authority to annul laws affecting the budget, the implementation of the budget, central taxes, contribution payments and duties if they violate the right to life and dignity, the right to protect personal data, the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and rights connected to Hungarian citizenship, according to the law passed today.

    Ex-president Laszlo Solyom called the legislation “a step in the direction where the Constitutional Court is no longer a constitutional court”.

    ”It will be difficult to halt this downslope,” he said at a panel discussion at Pazmany Peter Catholic University on Wednesday.

    Solyom said depriving the court of the right to annul unconstitutional budget-related laws caused the biggest loss. The Constitutional Court still has the right to declare a budget-related law unconstitutional, but its ruling will be less powerful, as it cannot annul such laws.

    ”As a consequence, we will have to observe laws which have been declared unconstitutional,” said Solyom, who was the top court’s first president from 1989 to 1998.

    ”From now on, we will pin our hopes on Hungary’s future constitution,” the president said, referring to the supreme law being drafted and expected to be approved next spring.

    He emphasised that the new constitution should be based on the values of the present one.

    ”For a good, applicable and legitimate constitution to be drafted, there is no need for besmirching the effective one,” he said.