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Hungary Table of Contents


Constitutional Law Council

In 1989 the Constitutional Law Council had the power to monitor constitutional life in Hungary, note possible violations of the Constitution, and initiate procedures to eliminate laws, decrees, and regulations that failed to conform to the Constitution. The National Assembly elected the fifteen members of the Constitutional Law Council, which included National Assembly delegates, the minister of justice, the president of the Supreme Court, the prosecutor general, and the chairman of the People's Control Committee (see State Apparatus , this ch.). The council was subordinate to the National Assembly and, unlike the United States Supreme Court, was not an independent body for judicial review.

In amending the Constitution to establish the Constitutional Law Council in 1983, the regime responded to demands of the public to promote the rule of law and to requests of constitutional lawyers to systematize laws, decrees, and regulations promulgated by the ministries. The council used reports of violations from "reliable entities," which included government agencies, the National Assembly, and the county and district councils. If the Constitutional Law Council found that a law, decree, or regulation violated the Constitution, the council mediated between the body that lodged the complaint and the government organ that issued the law, decree, or regulation. The council could suspend acts it deemed unconstitutional, but it could not repeal them.

Individual citizens lacked direct access to the Constitutional Law Council. In fact, only government organs in a position to violate the Constitution--the National Assembly, the Presidential Council, the ministries, and the county and district councils--had the right to initiate inquiries by this body. If a person submitted a case to the Constitutional Law Council, the council referred that person to the government organ best able to represent the case. However, authorized organs represented only their own viewpoints, not those of individuals. Furthermore, no religious body had access to the council; therefore, issues concerning church-state relations never appeared for review. In effect, the Constitutional Law Council was answerable only to governing organs, not to the Hungarian people.

Data as of September 1989