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EU lawmakers request review of Hungary constitution

A faction of the European Parliament [official website] on Wednesday requested [press release] that the European Union [official website] review Hungary's new constitution [draft, in Hungarian, PDF], which the country's national assembly approved [JURIST report] on Monday. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe [official website], wrote in his request that the review would "ensure that the text does not contradict the basic European values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights." The National Assembly of Hungary [official website] voted 262-44 and one abstention in favor of the new constitution.

Members of the country's socialist party (MSZP) [official website, in Hungarian] and green liberal political party (LMP) boycotted the vote [Reuters report]. The measure was supported by and passed as a result of the ruling Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ) [official website, in Hungarian; JURIST news archive], which has controlled a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly since 2010. The constitution introduces several changes, including a debt ceiling where the country's debt cannot exceed 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP); a reform of the Fiscal Council, giving the group the right to veto the budget and dissolve parliament for failure to pass an annual budget by the end of March; a definition of marriage as a union between man and woman; and a statement that the life of a fetus begins at and should be protected from conception. The constitution also includes a new preamble that condemns the communist and socialist climate in Hungary that existed from 1944 to 1990 and solidifies democratization that began 20 years ago.

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