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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

The President of the Republic, elected by the National Assembly every 5 years, has a largely ceremonial role but powers also include appointing the prime minister. The prime minister selects cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in consultative open hearings and must be formally approved by the president. The unicameral, 386-member National Assembly is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. A party must win at least 5% of the national vote to form a parliamentary faction. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the last in May 1998).

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Courts & Judgments

Created in 1989, the Hungarian Constitutional Court has developed as a multi-functional institution with sweeping powers. The Constitutional Court is the only forum in Hungary whose decision are binding on everyone. There is no domestic recourse of appeal to them. The law defines that main tasks of the Constitutional Court as follows: it interprets the Constitution; it provides normative standards, and supervision over the constitutionality of laws; it reconciles the differences between international and domestic law; it renders decisions on constitutional challenges; it determines negligence in violations of constitutionality; it renders decisions on debates of authority; it establishes the public responsibilities of the head of state and other public officials; and among sundry other tasks, it determines the spheres of authority of municipalities and local authorities, and interprets limitations on public referendums.

The Constitution prescribes that the Constitutional Court be comprised of 15 members - at present there are nine. Constitutional justices, in accordance with the professional rules of the legal profession, must have an educational background in law, and be at least 45 years of age. They are nominated by a committee consisting of MPs from the various parliamentary factions and approved by a two-third majority of Parliament. The independence of Constitutional Court justices is assured by their security of tenure.

Hungary also has a Supreme Court, the Court of the Capital City, country courts and local muncipal district courts.

Source: Embassy of the Republic of Hungary to the United States

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Human Rights

The Hungarian Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2001; however, there were serious problems in some areas. Police continued to use excessive force against, beat, and harass suspects. Police also abused and harassed both Roma and foreign nationals. In practice the authorities do not always ensure due process. Prosecutors and judges may impose what amounts to unlimited pretrial detention. The authorities have attempted to evict Roma from some cities. There have been several reported incidents of interference in state-owned radio broadcasts by politically appointed board members. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, remained serious problems. Sexual harassment and discrimination on the job also remained serious problems. The Government has taken steps to improve the rights of persons with disabilities and continued to implement legislation to improve the status of women. Anti-Semitic and racial discrimination persisted and a number of racially motivated attacks, particularly against Roma were reported during the year. Societal discrimination against Roma remained a serious problem. Trafficking in persons, particularly women and children, for the purpose of prostitution and forced labor remained a problem.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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