Dr. Péter Paczolay: the Constitutional Court is still the guardian of constitutionality11 January 2013
“The Constitutional Court made it clear last year as well that the Court is the guardian of the constitutional order of the legislation. The necessary means to perform its task are at its disposal and the Court uses them.” – said Dr. Péter Paczolay, President of the Constitutional Court in an interview this week.
The Constitutional Court is the principal organ for the protection of the Fundamental Law. Its tasks are to protect the fundamental rights and to exercise constitutional control on the legislation and on the application of law. The Constitutional Court performs its tasks even if the government has two-third majority. However, this is a relevant circumstance regarding the efficient operation, because the two-third majority might amend the Fundamental Law or narrow the competences of the Court. Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court has to enforce the constitutionality through its decisions.
In response to the question, that in connection with its latest decisions the Court has been accused of politicizing, the President explained that although it is obvious that several decisions have political consequences, it does not mean that the decisions are based on political aspects. Up till now every decision has been based on legal arguments, and until this practice exists there is nothing to worry about. It is not surprising that the decisions of the Constitutional Court are usually assessed and commented by public figures according to their own political interests. Nevertheless, in a democratic State governed by the rule of law there is no place for unfounded accusations and for the questioning of the competences of the Court. The accusation regarding the latest decision on the Act on Election Procedures based on the petition of the President of Hungary is particularly incomprehensible.
As for the members of the Constitutional Court, in September 2011 the number of the members of the Court was raised to fifteen (the Court used to have eleven members) and two more judges will be replaced in the beginning of this year (the membership of two current judges terminates by reaching the age of 70 years). According to Dr. Paczolay it is a fast change and the change that affects half of the members of the Court means a significant challenge. (During the current legislation period the Parliament has elected only candidates of the governing parties. Up till now 8 judges: in 2010 István Stumpf and Mihály Bihari, in 2011 István Balsai, Egon Dienes-Oehm, Béla Pokol, Péter Szalay and Mária Szívós, and in December 2012 László Salamon – who enters into office in February 2013. The mandate of judge András Holló will terminate in April 2013.)