Gyurcsány: New constitution needed to replace illegitimate basic law – UPDATE
Budapest, April 28 (MTI) – A new constitution confirmed by a referendum, fewer laws requiring two-thirds majority support and increased protection of constitutional rights are needed in Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsány, head of the opposition Democratic Coalition said on Friday.
Speaking at a conference on Hungary’s judicial system organised by the Foundation for a New Republic, Gyurcsány said that the most important task is to draft a new constitution that preserves the spirit of the 1989 basic law and at the same time reflects the 28 years that have passed since the change of the political system. The current constitution is illegitimate because it is essentially a “single party dictate”, he added.
Referring to the basic law’s preamble, he said the provisions that provide an ideological basis to the constitution must be abolished. Rules that hinder government need to be cancelled, party stalwarts need to be removed from the top of independent institutions and the new constitution should be confirmed by a referendum, Gyurcsány said.
The constitution should be made more stable, Gyurcsány said and cited a proposal by the Eotvos Karoly Institute in line with which it should be passed by two consecutive parliaments and then put to a referendum. Another option would be to incorporate “rigid rules” in the basic law that cannot be changed later, such as the basic citizens’ rights and freedoms, declaring the republic as the form of government and the multi-party system, he added.
The option for citizens to directly contact the constitutional court should be restored, Gyurcsány said. DK proposes reducing the number of topics excluded as referendum subjects and at the same time selecting certain issues that would be compulsory to confirm by a referendum.
Gyurcsány said he does not consider the current election system fair but he disagrees with those who would introduce a proportional system. Proportionality benefits those who expect to lose and want to minimise the defeat, he said. Majoritarian systems favour those who want to win and expect to attract a stable majority, he said.
DK would not want to introduce compulsory voting but proposes holding elections on work days and giving a day off work to those who go to the polls. Commenting on voters living outside Hungary, he said no one can be stripped of their citizenships, but the right to vote should be subject to having a permanent residence in Hungary for a certain amount of time.
DK would restore the church status of communities that have lost it due to the 2011 law on the legal status of churches, and the party would revise the Vatican agreement. Churches should have the same obligations and tax treatments as everybody else, Gyurcsány said.
László Majtényi, head of the Eötvös Károly Institute, told the conference that patching up the current constitution would be useless. Instead, a real constitutional process is needed and the final document should be passed by a Constituent Assembly consisting of representatives of all parliamentary parties. The bill then should be confirmed by a referendum, he said.