Hungarian MPs have backed a proposal calling for the European Parliament to be scrapped in its current form as an elected body.
Lawmakers in the parliament — dominated by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rightwing Fidesz that has frequently clashed with EU institutions — want elected MEPs to be replaced by representatives appointed by the national legislatures of the EU 27 member states.
At the last session before the summer recess, the Hungarian parliament adopted a resolution on Hungary’s stance on the future of the European Union, saying that the EU’s current treaties “are not an adequate basis for cooperation in a time of crises”.
The resolution states that the European treaties should recognise Europe’s Christian roots and culture and declares that the European Commission should be politically and ideologically neutral.
Parliament also passed changes to the funding of parties’ parliamentary groups and adopted an asset declaration system in line with that of MEPs. In future, deputies will no longer be required to declare properties, valuable possessions, or savings, only revenues and holdings.
Also on July 19, the supermajority of Hungary’s ruling nationalist Fidesz party approved a constitutional amendment that reschedules municipal elections to coincide with the European Parliament elections on July 19. The amendment was approved with a vote of 140 for, 36 against and no abstentions, meaning that five deputies from the radical rightwing Mi Hazank (Our Homeland) party supported the motion.
Local government elections will move forward from October to the same time as the European Parliament elections are held. The ruling party said holding the elections at the same time would result in “significant savings”. The HUF10bn (€25mn) savings would make up roughly 0.0003% of budget expenditures in 2023.
Analysts said the latest constitutional change was a trap for the opposition. The European Parliament elections would have been their first real test after the crushing defeat they experienced in the spring general election, with parties expected to run on separate lists. In the local elections, it would be to the contrary. As in 2019, the liberals, socialists and right-wing Jobbik could team up and file joint candidates.
Lawmakers also supported reintroducing historic titles of government commissioners and counties. The former will be renamed ‘lord-lieutenant’ and the latter as castle counties. These administrative titles were abolished after Hungary’s Soviet occupation following WWII. Critics say these titles evoke memories of the country’s feudal past and the period when Hungary was run by governor Miklos Horthy, who aligned the country with Nazi Germany.