Hungarian Government to Ban MPs from Entering Institutions

A pro-government legal proposal in Hungary, if passed, would seriously jeopardise MPs' rights. The amendment allows MPs to be banned from entering the Parliament building and other institutions for as long as two months.

Under new plans, Hungarian MPs would be almost totally deprived of the right to enter public institutions to control the implementation of public service duties.

The amendment follows a series of incidents of the opposition criticising the governing Fidesz party for its abuse of power, actions which the President of the Parliament called disruptive. Most recently, an MP held up a placard reading "He has to lie as he's been stealing too much" under the platform where Viktor Orbán was delivering his speech. It ended comically, with Orbán leaning over the banister and trying to grab the sign.

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Visits by MPs to state institutions have made a difference to people's lives

Besides being banned from entering the house, MPs participating in such actions could be punished by having their pay cut off for up to six months.

In response to the proposal submitted by Fidesz, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) collected some cases in its blog, in which MPs entering public institutions to personally control the legality of the exercise of power was important.

Bernadett Szél, an independent MP, visited the children's home in Fót, which provides housing for children raised in state care. Due to a broken boiler, the temperature in the home was 5 or 6 degrees, a problem which was only rectified after the MP reported on it on her community website.

It was also Bernadett Szél who repeatedly entered the transit zones along the Serbian-Hungarian border and reported that the starving of asylum seekers, including many children, some of whom were severely ill, was an everyday experience.

The most serious incident involved protesters marching to the headquarters of the public media in a Budapest suburb. Making use of their right to enter public institutions, opposition MPs joined protesters and went into the building to try and ensure that their petition was broadcast both on the television and the radio. However, the security guards took violent action to eject the MPs from the building.

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According to the recently proposed amendment, from now on MPs will only be able to demand information from the heads of public institutions after prior consultation.

Until now MPs have been authorised to follow vote counts at election time inside the premises of the National Elections Office. The proposed amendment would remove this right.