Archive item

Title: U.S. Helsinki Commission Hearing "The Trajectory of Democracy: Why Hungary Matters": Testimony by Dr. Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University
Other/original title:
Publisher: U.S. Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe)
Files: CSCE __ Testimony __ Dr Kim Lane Scheppele.pdf
Abstract: The U.S. Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe), an independent agency of the U.S. federal government chaired by Sen. Benjamin Cardin and U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, organized a hearing on the state of democracy in Hungary on March 19, 2013, inviting a number of speakers to present on the subject. This is the testimony by Kim Lane Scheppele, Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Although Scheppele has addressed Hungary's media laws in detail in the past, her testimony here focused on rule of law issues, in particular the Hungarian government's transformation of the country's constitutional framework. Scheppele's testimony illustrates in detail how checks and balances have been removed and the government imposed a "one-party Constitution". She also describes partisan appointments for very long terms to new agencies which were allocated far-reaching powers to constrain the actions of any government that lacks Fidesz's current two-thirds majority; something which she argued will make it easy to immobilize or even depose any non-Fidesz government that might be elected. Regarding Hungary's media regulations, Scheppele observes that the chair and members of the new media council have all been selected by Fidesz politicians and appointed for nine-year terms. She notes the body's extensive regulatory scope and sanctioning authorities over public and private broadcast, print and internet media. She also remarks on the new electoral rules that were introduced through the latest constitutional amendment, which "ban political advertising during the election campaign in any venue other than in the public broadcast media, which is controlled by the all-Fidesz media board". Although such restrictions were previously struck down by the Constitutional Court, their inclusion in a constitutional amendment means the Court can not substantively review them again.
Publication/ adoption date: 2013-03-19
Language: English