Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Dotard: an educational insult

Read more

#TECH 24

Medtech: Repairing the human body

Read more

ENCORE!

Jennifer Lawrence on why she's unafraid to speak out

Read more

#THE 51%

Hola "Ellas Hoy" - The 51 Percent welcomes its sister show on FRANCE 24 Spanish

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

A stroll through the Corsican city of Calvi, jewel of the Mediterranean

Read more

REPORTERS

The torment of Christians living in Syria’s Khabur valley

Read more

FOCUS

'Generation Merkel' yearns for continuity and stability

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Amazon rainforest pays heavy price for Brazil's political crisis

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Presidential election re-run pushed back to October 26th

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2012-01-09

Hungary's new constitution raises concern

In Hungary, concerns are mounting over the possible abuse of power by Viktor Orban's conservative nationalist government. The country's new constitution has changed the electoral law and its members now hold nearly all positions of power in the country. Investors and the IMF have been largely scared off, which has Europe increasingly worried about Hungary defaulting on its debt.

In Hungary, Viktor Orban's conservative nationalist government has a huge majority in parliament: more than two thirds. But is it abusing that power? The country's new constitution, introduced on the first of January, has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Orban's Fidesz party has changed the electoral law and the way parliament operates and placed its people in virtually every possible instance of power in the country. The new constitution even removes the word Republic from the country's name.

Now Orban's popularity has shrunk and some liberal Hungarians are even starting to call him "the Viktator". But what's perhaps most worrying for the rest of Europe and the world are the economic implications. The new constitution's provisions for the Central Bank have scared off investors and the IMF - at a time when Hungary desperately needs a credit line to avoid defaulting on its debts.

Talks with the IMF and EU could prove protracted. Hungary's negotiator, Tamas Fellegi, has lately indicated that the government is prepared to compromise, but given Budapest's recent propensity for what the Americans call flip-flopping, he'll have his work cut out for him convincing his interlocutors that this time the Hungarians' word can be trusted.

At issue are the constitution's provisions concerning the Central Bank, which critics say effectively subordinate the latter to a new expanded monetary council.

That looks like an attempt by Viktor Orban to circumvent the bank's governor, Andras Simor, one of the few people in positions of real power in today's Hungary with whom Orban is not always in agreement.

With the new constitution, Orban's Fidesz party has loyalists in charge of institutions that ought to provide checks and balances on governmental power, such as the constitutional court and the national media authority, whose members are appointed for nine-year terms - going well beyond the electoral cycle.

For over a year now, journalists in Hungary have been crying foul over the country's media laws - some even going on hunger strike.

Former anti-communist dissidents have joined the protest. "It's sad, and also disgusting", is Laszlo Rajk's comment on Viktor Orban's transformation from 1980s freedom fighter to power-hungry nationalist. Rajk is one of a number of veterans of the fight to bring democracy to Hungary who are now stepping up to defend it.

Following a huge and successful demonstration in Budapest on January 2nd, they plan to hold an opposition round table in order to come up with alternative proposals to put before Hungarians.

At the moment, many Hungarians don't know where to turn. The previous, Socialist-led government discredited itself through corruption and a famous case in which Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany was caught on tape admitting to having lied to the people. Now the Socialists have split, with Gyurcsany attempting a comeback under the moniker of Democratic Coalition.

That leaves Jobbik, the far-right party, as the second largest bloc in the Hungarian parliament.

In recent polls, nearly half of respondents said they simply didn't know who they could vote for in the event of elections.

By Gulliver CRAGG , Grégoire OZAN

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-09-22 Germany

'Generation Merkel' yearns for continuity and stability

It's common for young people to vote against the status quo in elections. But that's not the case in Germany. The so-called "Merkel Generation" have only known one German...

Read more

2017-09-21 Burma

Rohingya crisis: Monks with an ultranationalist agenda

During Burma's half a century of military dictatorship, the country's Buddhist monks became one of the main pillars of non-violent protest against the junta. But in the last few...

Read more

2017-09-20 Asia-pacific

Are universities in Pakistan becoming a breeding ground for terrorism?

In recent years in Pakistan, a growing number of students from prestigious institutions have taken part in terrorist attacks. Unlike students from madrassas, which are under...

Read more

2017-09-19 Americas

Rio mired in economic crisis a year after hosting Olympics

A state of "financial calamity" was declared in Rio de Janeiro just before it hosted the August 2016 Olympic Games. Salaries for public servants went unpaid and funding was...

Read more

2017-09-18 Asia-pacific

Rohingyas crowd into makeshift camps in Bangladesh after fleeing Burma

On the border between Burma and Bangladesh, the exodus of Rohingya people continues. In less than a month, more than 400,000 of them have crossed the border into neighbouring...

Read more