Constitution – Fidesz, ChristDem groups approve draft

Budapest, March 10 (MTI) – The parliamentary groups of the ruling Fidesz and Christian Democratic parties discussed and approved the alliance’s draft for Hungary’s new constitution at a closed-door meeting on Thursday, Fidesz group leader Janos Lazar told a press conference.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban told MTI after the meeting that “the lion’s share of the work is still ahead”.

Lazar said the discussion over the draft had been “constructive”, with over 30 deputies contributing their ideas to the debate.

The new constitution will not contain fundamental changes to the current system; “Hungary will not make a step towards a presidential or semi-presidential system,” Lazar said. He added, however, that the president’s authorities would be modified, granting a greater power to dissolve parliament in certain cases. One such case would be if parliament fails to adopt the budget until March 31, Lazar said.

Concerning the Constitutional Court, Lazar said that its powers would neither be restricted nor increased but “entirely changed” by the introduction of individual complaints. The new institution, modelled on German law, would allow private individuals to appeal to the Constitutional Court if they feel that a court decision has violated a right granted under the constitution.

According to the draft, there would be one ombudsman as opposed to the current four, with deputies in charge of various areas, said Lazar. He added that responsibilities concerning data protection would be delegated to a separate, new authority.

The adopted draft “contains all that is important for Christian Democrats and none that the party finds unacceptable,” the group leader of the Christian Democrats, Peter Harrach told MTI after the meeting.

“The proposal offers a hopeful future and it also ensures a kind of national confidence,” Harrach added.

The group leader said that he was glad that the protection of such key values as life, marriage and family was stipulated in the draft.

Media law – EP approves resolution criticising Hungary

Strasbourg, March 10 (MTI) – The European Parliament on Thursday approved a resolution that raises objections to Hungary’s media law.

Strasbourg, March 10 (MTI) – The European Parliament on Thursday approved a resolution that raises objections to Hungary’s media law.

The joint motion by the Socialists, liberals, greens and radicals was approved by 316 votes in favour, 264 votes against and 33 abstentions.

Before the vote, the European People’s Party group, which includes the Hungarian governing party Fidesz, withdrew its own resolution criticising the attacks against Hungary’s media law and called on the other four parties to withdraw their resolution attacking the law.

However, the Socialist deputy group leader Hannes Swoboda said they had refused, insisting that changes Hungary made to the law were unsatisfactory.

The approved resolution urges a new review of the Hungarian media law and suggests that the European Commission should draft an EU directive protecting the freedom of the press and media pluralism.

The resolution calls on the Hungarian government to amend its law again, taking into account recommendations of the European Parliament, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. It added that clauses inconsistent with “the wording or spirit” of European laws and agreements should be scrapped.

It calls on the Hungarian authorities to “restore the independence of media governance” in Hungary and to put an end to the state’s “interference in freedom of opinion”.