Shaping Presidential Powers in Hungary: Convention, Tradition and Informal Constitutional Amendments

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Attila Vincze Senior lecturer, Judicial Studies Institute, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic,

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There was no tradition of a republican president in Hungary before the fall of communism, and the transitory constitution of 1989 was unclear about the exact role the President should play in the constitutional system of Hungary. Some provisions even resembled those of presidential or semi-presidential systems; some ambiguities were clarified during the first two decades after the transition. Conventions, however, were established to some extent and sometimes very quickly. This period gave rise to guidelines as to how the powers of the President should be exercised. Some other powers were concretized and interpreted foremost by the Constitutional Court. These conventions and judicial interpretations formed the character of the Presidency to the extent of informal constitutional change. Some of these elements have even been incorporated into and formalized by the new Fundamental Law of Hungary. The present contribution will point out how the originally broad competencies of the President have been narrowed in the practice, and what role the Constitutional Court and political actors played in this process.

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