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Hungary

https://www.idea.int/democracytracker/

February 2024

Child abuse pardoning decision triggers public outcry and resignations

A news site revelation that President Katalin Novák pardoned a man convicted of covering up sexual abuse in a children’s home (in a decision countersigned by Justice Minister Judit Varga) unleashed unprecedented political pressure on the ruling elite, known for its traditional family-oriented politics. The scandal triggered concerns regarding the transparency and ethical considerations involved in pardon decisions and their potential impact on depriving victims of due justice. Investigative journalists reported that Zoltán Balog, the leader of the Hungarian Reformed Church, advisor and mentor to President Novák, and former Fidesz MP and minister in Orbán’s government, influenced this presidential pardon. Following pressure from the opposition and public outcry (including widespread protests), Novák and Varga resigned on 10 February. Novák made history as the country's first female president, while Varga was among the two women in Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's male-dominated cabinet. On 26 February, the parliament elected the ruling coalition Fidesz-KNDP's candidate Tamás Sulyok, former chief of the Constitutional Court, as the new president.

Sources: 444.hu, Index, Reuters (1), Reuters (2), Daily News Hungary, BBC, Balkan Insight, Hungarian Government, Associated Press, VSquare

December 2023

Parliament passes ‘sovereignty law’

On 12 December, the parliament passed a law to protect “national sovereignty,” targeting what the ruling Fidesz party views as unwarranted foreign political interference, particularly through funding to political parties during the electoral campaigns. The legislation, passed with 141 votes in favour and 50 against, establishes the Sovereignty Protection Office, equipped with extensive investigative powers. This office can scrutinize NGOs and individuals engaged in public discourse, initiating investigations into those suspected of serving foreign interests. The Penal Code now states that those who are found to have accepted foreign funding while running for office may face up to three years in prison. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights urged Fidesz to abandon the proposal, expressing concerns about potential misuse of sensitive data. Four major political groups voiced deep concerns about threats to the rule of law in a letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Critics, including rights groups, warned the law resembles Russia's foreign agent legislation, posing risks to freedom of expression and independent journalism.

Sources: Euronews, Index (1), Index (2), Reuters (1), Reuters (2), International Press Institute, S&D Group (X), Committee to Protect Journalists

EU Commission unblocks EUR 10.2 billion in cohesion funds
Watch flag

The European Commission unblocked EUR 10.2 billion in cohesion funds for Hungary, nearly a year after freezing the funds due to the country's failure to address rule-of-law concerns. This decision enables the government to submit reimbursement requests for development projects. Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, emphasized that improved judicial independence guarantees have been received, cautioning this is not the conclusion of the process and indicating ongoing vigilance for any potential setbacks. Approximately EUR 21 billion in funding for Hungary remains locked. Some observers said that the release of funds is part of negotiations with Hungary not to oppose accession negotiations with Ukraine and not to block funds and military aid to Ukraine. The European Commission maintains that its decision is a procedural response to Hungary's judicial reform. Amnesty International and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee argue that the reform inadequately addresses the concerns raised by Brussels, since the solutions violate rule of law by breaching relevant legislation, neglecting public consultations and civil society’s proposals.

Sources: European Commission, Euronews, Deutsche Welle, Politico, Balkan Insight, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Magyar Hand

July 2023

Parliament passes controversial education law

Despite protests by teachers, students and parents, the parliament has voted in favour of a controversial education law, which enters into force on 1 January 2024. The law abolishes teachers’ status as public servants, limiting their rights and restricting their autonomy. Further, the maintainer of their educational institution, which in most cases is the state, will determine their salaries based on their performance. Critics fear that loyalty to the state will count towards better performance evaluations. By 29 September, teachers can either accept these conditions or resign. More than 5,000 have already pledged to resign in a March petition. They consider the bill a government retaliation against their 1.5 years of striking for better pay and working conditions. Trade unions have criticized the law for overloading teachers and masking staff shortages, whereas the president, Katalin Novák, insists that it “ensures the [...] functioning of the public education system”.

Sources: President of Hungary, Associated Press, Telex, 24.hu, Euronews, European Commission

June 2023

EU Court rules Hungary’s migration regulation breached EU law

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Hungary broke EU law when it introduced a new law during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 making procedures more difficult for asylum seekers. The judgment found that the law deprived “third-country nationals or stateless persons concerned of the effective enjoyment of their right to seek asylum from Hungary”. The rules forced asylum seekers, including those already in Hungary, to submit a pre-asylum application at Hungarian embassies in Serbia or Ukraine before applying for international protection in Hungary. Authorities said that certain asylum seekers, such as Ukrainians, were exempt from the rules. The case was brought forth by the European Commission, which will now have to decide between demanding that Hungary repeal the regulation and levying fines.

Sources: Euractiv, Politico

See all event reports for this country

GSoD Indices Data 2013-2022

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Basic Information

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Population Tooltip
9 709 890
System of government
Parliamentary system
Head of government
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (since 2010)
Head of government party
Fidesz
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
Mixed Member Proportional System
Women in lower or single chamber
14.6%
Women in upper chamber
Not applicable
Last legislative election
2022
Effective number of political parties Tooltip
3.31
Head of state
President Tamás Sulyok
Selection process for head of state
Indirect election (assembly)
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
02/11/2021
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
49.06%
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Human Rights Treaties

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State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State Party
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
State Party
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
State Party
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
State Party
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
No Action
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
State Party
International Labour Organisation Treaties
Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
State Party
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
State Party
Equal Remuneration Convention
State Party
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
State Party
Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment
State Party
Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
State Party
Regional Treaties
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
State Party
Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
State Party
Protocol No. 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
State Party
Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
State Party
Protocol No. 7 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
State Party
Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Signatory
Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
State Party
in
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Performance by category over the last 6 months

Representation neutral Representation
Nov 2023
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Representation neutral Rights
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Representation neutral Rule of law
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Representation neutral Participation
Nov 2023
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Global State of Democracy Indices

Hover over the trend lines to see the exact data points across the years

Explore the indices
Representation
Representation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
Rule of Law
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

Use the slider below to see how democratic performance has changed over time

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