The Hungarian Parliament adopted yesterday the new constitution. The document was adopted despite criticism by the EU and even the UN about the lack of sufficient checks and balances between the executive and legislative powers.The constitution will be signed by the president Pal Schmitt on the 25th of April (1st anniversary of election that enabled the rulling right-wing party FIDESZ to change the constitution), and will come to the force on the 1st of January 2012.

Yesterday FIDESZ and Christian Democratic deputies voted in favour of passing the new law in the 262-to-44 vote, while radical nationalist Jobbik voted against. The decision by the main opposition Socialists and liberal parties to boycott the vote reflected the controversy not just over the contents of the Constitution, but also the way it was drafted and the political polarization that has continued ever since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 and its satellites moved toward democracy. For FIDESZ on the other hand, the Constitution is to represent a break with Hungary’s communist past.

The new constitution appears to be a eulogy to Hungary’s Christian roots and past greatness.In the constitution’s preamble, the title “The Basic Law of Hungary” is followed by the subtitle “God Bless Hungarians,” the first sentence of the Hungarian anthem and a reference to the many Hungarians who became citizens of neighbouring countries following the collapse of the Habsburg Empire. “Motivated by the ideal of a unified Hungarian nation, Hungary shall bear a sense of responsibility for the destiny of Hungarians living outside her borders, shall promote their survival and development, and will continue to support their efforts to preserve their Hungarian culture, and foster their cooperation with each other and with Hungary,” reads Article D of the constitution.

Although one of the most disputed provisions curbs the powers of the constitutional court on budget and tax matters and allows the president to dissolve Parliament if a budget is not approved, the new provisions regarding protection of foetus from the moment of conception and defining family as a union between man and woman are equally alarming. The new constitution establishes the base for restricting abortion as it states: “Human dignity is inviolable. Everyone has the right to life and human dignity. The life of a foetus will be protected from conception.” Article M of the constitution reads that “Hungary protects the institution of marriage between man and woman, a matrimonial relationship voluntarily established, as well as the family as the basis for the survival of the nation”.