The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday threatened to take legal action against Hungary unless it revised its brand new constitution to allow the country’s central bank to operate without interference from the Hungarian government. The EC’s threat requires a response within 30 days.
Hungary’s new constitution was a long time coming. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Hungary’s constitution was amended numerous times, allowing more and more freedom for a free market economy to grow and making other provisions that limited government power. In 2010 the process of developing a new constitution began in earnest which included questionnaires mailed out to all Hungarians for their input and opinion. Nearly one million questionnaires were returned and provisions in the new constitution were either added or deleted based largely on that input. In April the Hungarian parliament approved it overwhelmingly and it was signed into law by President Pal Schmitt (pictured), to take effect on January 1, 2012.
Noteworthy are the limits on spending until the public debt drops below 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (it is now about 80 percent) as well as the president's power to dissolve parliament if acceptable budgets aren’t approved. The life of a fetus is protected from the moment of conception while marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman. It reduces mandatory retirement for judges from the current age of 70 to 62, and limits the powers of the head of the country’s central bank. In addition, its preamble contains references to the Holy Crown as well as to God, Christianity, the fatherland, and traditional family values.
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Photo of Hungarian President Pal Schmitt signing the new Constitution: AP Images