Wednesday, May 04, 2011

On the Hungarian constitution

There have been lots of news reports about Hungary's new constitution. Complaints are that it strengthens the power of the Fidesz party and converts the constitution from a national document into something that reflects the desires of their party.

I won't discuss this aspect. Instead I want to focus on the procedure. What happens now in Hungary would be impossible in the Netherlands. In order to change the constitution the proposal has to approved twice by parliament and in between there have to be elections. The first time a single majority suffices; the second time a two-third majority is needed.

As a consequence the Dutch constitution (here is the translation in English of a prior version) is much more a simple rulebook about which everyone can agree than many "modern" constitutions. I believe this is what a constitution should be. However many "reformers" may like it a constitution is not a tool to achieve societal reforms.

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