Hungary's parliament has given its approval to a proposal to abolish the European Parliament as an elected body and replace it with a system where the national legislatures of the bloc's 27 members appoint representatives.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing nationalist Fidesz Party proposed the move, with 130 of its lawmakers in the 234-seat house backing it on July 19. Mr. Orban, who has dominated Hungarian politics for more than a decade, has been battling Brussels on a range of issues from perceived democratic and rights backsliding, to sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, to enlargement and other internal EU issues.
Hungary (under Prime Minister Viktor Organ’s leadership) and the EU have been at odds for years over the wider issue of the rule of law. This intensified in 2021 when Hungary adopted a new law banning the depiction or promotion of LGBT-related material to minors.
On September 15th European Parliament (EP) Thursday adopted its interim report wherein it declared Hungary as no longer a democracy. It alleged Hungary is becoming a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy, a constitutional system in which elections occur, but respect for democratic norms and standards are absent.”
- In June the parliament in Hungary adopted a homophobic and transphobic law. Hungary was involved in the Pegasus spyware scandal. The Hungarian National Security Services Act remained in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in the case of Szabó and Vissy v. Hungary in 2016.
- The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Hungary’s placement of asylum seekers in transit zones and its practice of pushbacks. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly was restricted until 23 May and an existing state of emergency was extended until 1 June 2022. The government resisted putting in place effective measures to protect judges’ freedom of expression and other rights from undue interference.
- The government was still reluctant to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) that it signed in 2014, alleging that the convention promoted “gender ideology” and “illegal migration
- Discrimination against Roma persisted. Children from Roma families living in poverty continued to be separated from their families and placed in long-term state care, even though this practice is forbidden by the Hungarian Child Protection Act.
- New legislation had been needed following a June 2020 CJEU ruling that the 2017 law on NGO transparency introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions to freedom of association. Despite a 2016 ECtHR judgment that the dismissal of the president of the former Hungarian Supreme Court, András Baka, violated the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression, Hungary continued to fail to implement the decision or take general measures to protect judges’ right to freedom of expression and other rights from undue interference. Hungary failed to submit an updated action plan by December 2021.
The European Commission’s annual Rule of Law report identified problems severely threatening the rule of law in Hungary. The Commission was not able to identify any substantial improvements as compared to the findings of the 2020 report. Hungary’s system of checks and balances, as well as the transparency and quality of the legislative process, remained a source of concern.