Monday, March 11, 2013
Hungary's conservative majority has amended the constitution, according to Al Jazeera and others, drawing criticism of the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the U.S. State Department.
Among the controversial changes:
- A limit on the constitutional court's jurisdiction, prohibiting it from voiding constitutional amendments, except on procedural grounds;
- A limit on the president's veto power, prohibiting the president from vetoing a constitutional amendment, except on procedural grounds;
- Allowing party political broadcasts on state media only;
- Requiring students who receive state aid to remain in Hungary after graduation for a certain period;
- A ban on sleeping on the streets;
- Defining family as "marriage between man and woman."
The Council of Europe and EC said that the amendments "raise concerns with respect to the principle of the rule of law, EU law and Council of Europe standards." The State Department shared these concerns and said that the "amendments deserve closer scrutiny and more deliberate consideration, as they could threaten the principles of institutional independence and checks and balances that are the hallmark of democratic governance."