The government is “systematically destroying” Hungary’s independent judiciary, the deputy group leader of the opposition Socialist Party told a press conference on Thursday, adding that plans to set up a top public administration court would be a crucial tool for such a manoeuvre.
Tamás Harangozó added that sending judges who started their careers before 1990 into retirement could further curb the branch’s independence.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government had moved in 2016 to set up the new high court but the Constitutional Court blocked it.
Justice Minister László Trócsányi recently told a parliamentary committee that the government had no intention of appointing judges loyal to the government. The Fidesz party has the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to set up the new court.
Referring to recent legislation on the new ministries, Harangozó said that under the new law one of the state secretaries of public administration will have the power to veto the appointment of any official in any ministry up to the post of head of department. “If it works like that, that will be an example of the bolshevik state,” he commented.
Answering a question concerning a recent suggestion by a Socialist MEP, Tibor Szanyi, that the Socialist Party should be completely scrapped and a new party established, group leader Bertalan Tóth said that “first the content should be corrected” and the party “stabilised”. “Once we have that, we may consider a new brand,” he added. Local communities should be reinforced to get more support for the party, he said, adding that the party “has been there, it is there, and will be there”.
Tóth said the Socialists would not attend the oath-taking ceremony of the new ministers on Friday, because they “do not wish to applaud or congratulate a government which systemically manipulated the election.”