The Constitution’s Table – Az Alaptörvény Asztala

Some things matter.

Starting on Thursday, September 1, 2011, every municipal council in Hungary must set up a table to display the country’s newly enacted constitution.

The table must be covered by glass, and the constitution on the table must be opened on page 28 (though citizens may browse the document freely, turning it to any one of its pages).  Next to the table, a chair must be set. The table must have its own room. The room must be guarded by an employee who is employed exclusively for tending the table.

Decoration (here there is rule for creativity) and a ribbon in the Hungarian national colors also must be placed in the room. Above the document itself, a sign must be fixed on the wall with the words “AZ ALAPTÖRVÉNY ASZTALA” – “THE CONSTITUTION’S TABLE.” The sign, hopefully more carefully guarded than a different document ordered to be kept on display in government offices and municipalities last year, which ended up being smeared with a deviled egg in one citizen’s effort to protest, must be IN BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS.

The above legal mandates are set by a governmental statute issued so soon before going into effect that some of the municipalities hardly had time to find a table. Apparently, constitutions are much easier to obtain. The statute also states that Hungarian citizens may now own their own personal copy of the country’s constitution solely for the price of asking. Should anyone avail himself or herself to the opportunity of requesting one – and plenty of the request forms are available in every room holding a Constitution’s Table – László Kövér, the speaker of the Hungarian parliament will personally attach his signature to the copy of the document before it is placed in the mail.

The Hungarian government budgeted 50 million Hungarian forints (the equivalent of 183,600 euros, or 261,700 USD) for the costs associated with supplying the Hungarian populace with hard copies of the country’s constitution. This sum does not include the additional full-time employee that each and every municipalities is now to employ for guarding the Constitution’s Table.

This is not a Monty Python sketch (though yes, it does sound like one). I took these pictures from yesterday’s media products:

The "Constitution's Table" in the municipal building of Budapest's 5th district. Though this district is led by Antal Rogán, an important Fidesz politician, note that the document is not opened on page 28.

The "Constitution's Table" in a different municipal building. Notice the difference in the room's design: it is further evidence that individual creativity is still enthusiastically embraced in Hungary.

Alternatively, if this is not from a Monty Python sketch, you might want to say that it is from a country with a one-party system. And there, you would be exactly right! At least as far as the intentions of the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán is concerned.

WikiLeaks now published over a thousand of cables originating or referencing Hungary. One of the most widely discussed among them can be found here. Dated on June 16, 2009, just after the European Parliamentary elections, then opposition-party but now-PM Viktor Orbán is described as making the following assertions to the US embassy in Budapest:

4. (SBU) Looking ahead to general elections next year (or
earlier, if FIDESZ has its way), "a simple majority in
Parliament is all FIDESZ needs," Orban announced.  Recalling
his time as Prime Minister from 19998-2002, Orban pointed out
that a coalition of three parties was "difficult" to manage -
"never again."  In the upcoming elections FIDESZ will secure
a comfortable majority, and will cooperate with neither the
"far right nor with the far left", according to Orban.  The
56 percent of the votes obtained last week is enough proof,
Orban added, that FIDESZ will not need to cooperate with
anyone.  (Comment.  Interestingly, Orban was the only party
leader during post-election broadcasts who did not comment on
the extreme-right Jobbik party's strong showing in the EP
elections, perhaps reflecting his effort to marginalize them
prior to the upcoming national elections.  End comment.) 

5. (SBU) The party chairman elaborated on what he referred to
as his "political creed": his most important values are
family, church, and the nation.  In domestic politics, Orban
said he has spent the last fifteen years working to create a
center-right party, with the goal of obtaining "at least 50
percent of the seats in Parliament."  Today, however, a
two-thirds majority is within closer reach than it was just
two weeks ago.  Continuing, Orban said that ultimately,
Hungary appears to be moving toward a "one-party" system, and
that one party will be FIDESZ, facing no real competition
from smaller political entities.

The constitution, of course, is not only the product of this two-third majority, nor only the symbol for the change into a one-party system. Hungary’s constitution has now been officially buried. As of September 2, 2011, its primary purpose is to be on display in the thousands of mausoleums erected for it by the edicts of the new regime.

Second day of the Hungarian parliament's deliberations of the draft constitution, March 23, 2011. The constitution was enacted by a two-third majority on April 18 of the same year.

If you would like to read more about Hungary’s new constitution, I would recommend this (English-language) piece from Der Spiegel, summarizing reactions from the international press upon its passage into law:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,757971,00.html

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This entry was posted in Antal Rogán, by governmental decree, constitution, Hungary, László Kövér, The Table of the Constitution, Viktor Orbán and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to The Constitution’s Table – Az Alaptörvény Asztala

  1. Gretchen Dunn says:

    And, please, what is the text of page 28 of the Constitution? It must be important, that all should have the opportunity to read it.

  2. Nobody seems to know, not even the newspapers! In my conspiratory moments I almost believe that the intrigue is intentional: one is not supposed to know until one either goes to consult a constitution on a Table, or until one receives a free copy. But if I’m right, I have to admit that it is a great marketing gimmick – I want to know so bad I might order a copy!!!

  3. Gretchen Dunn says:

    An on-line English translation shows that p. 28 (it is 30 pages long) deals with states of emergency
    Here is the page I dragged from an on-line version. Draft of 25 April 2011

    .State of emergency
    49. Article
    (1) The Hungarian Defence Forces may be deployed in a state of emergency if the deployment of the Police – and the national security services – is not enough. (2) Should the Parliament be obstructed in declaring a state of emergency, the President of the Republic shall decide on the deployment of the Hungarian Defence Forces under paragraph (1).
    (3) During a state of emergency, the extraordinary measures defined in a separate law shall be introduced by decree of the President of the Republic. (4) The President of the Republic shall immediately inform the Speaker of the Parliament of the extraordinary measures taken. The Parliament or, in case it is prevented from acting, the Parliamentary Defence Committee shall remain continuously in session during a state of emergency. The Parliament, or the Parliamentary Defence Committee, shall have the power to suspend the application of extraordinary measures introduced by the President of the Republic.
    (5) Extraordinary measures introduced by decree shall remain in force for a period of thirty days, unless the Parliament or, in case of its being prevented from acting, the Parliamentary Defence Committee extends their effect. (6) In other respects the regulations governing a state of extraordinary measures shall be applied to a state of emergency.
    Preventive defence situation
    50. Article
    (1) In the event of an armed invasion or if necessary in connection with the country’s allied obligations, the Parliament shall declare (extend) a state of preventive defence situation for a defined period and shall empower the Government to take the necessary measures set forth in a super majority law.
    (2) A majority of two-thirds of the votes of the Members of Parliament shall be required for the promulgation of the special law system set forth in paragraph (1). (3) The Government shall have powers, in the event of a preventive defence situation, to introduce measures derogating from the acts governing the administrative system and the operation of the Hungarian Defence Forces and the law enforcement agencies; such measures shall remain in force until the Parliament’s decision, not exceeding sixty days, and the Government shall continuously inform the President of the Republic and the competent parliamentary committees concerning these measures.
    Draft 25. April 2011.

  4. iam@yourfather.com says:

    Akárki is vagy, te nem vagy sem magyar, sem ember.
    Árulod az országomat, mint a hozzád hasonló jellemtelen és lelketlen százak, és kiabálod tele a civilizált(abb) emberek gyanútlan füleit.
    Lehet, hogy Orbán is csak egy rakás szar, egy büdös diktátor, ahogy az összes többi harácsbasi ebben a szerencsétlen hazában őelőtte, az alkotmányával együtt
    de a teféléd még rohadékabb nála is..
    Árulkodsz erre a hazára, mint egy óvodás gyerek, és csúfolod.
    Ha a teféléd szégyenkezni tudna, tökönszúrná magát.
    Mégis mit ártottunk neked, mit ártott neked Magyarország?

    Látom, vannak itt antináci cikkek is. Nos, elmondom neked: épp a hozzád hasonlók folyamatos átkozódása és gyűlölködése térített el engem attól, hogy én is ezt tegyem, ahogy eddig tettem, a “náci”-nak nvezhető dolgokkal szemben.

    Ne is fáraszd magad, töröld a hozzászólásomat nyomban, ahogy a hozzád hasonlók szokták, az igazság és szabadság bajnokai. csak meg akartam mondani, szerintem mit művelsz – ha bármi is köt ehhez a földhöz, amelyről írsz.

    • Just one thing (I assume you do speak English). If you think you have some kind of a moral license to say that people like me have driven you to support the nazis, well then, besides your victim mentality, I think you should look up again what it means to be a morally upright person. Seriously, you would rather defend this absurd decree than be critical of anything Hungarian? And, seriously, it is because I “dare” ask questions like this that you would rather march with the nazis?

  5. Gretchen Dunn says:

    Is this the same as the English?

  6. Hi Gretchen: this is super-interesting! Would it really be in the ‘decree” that the document must be opened on the passages talking about introducing a “state of emergency”? ‘ll be sure to order a copy to find out what’s on p. 28!

    • pusztaranger says:

      That got me quite excited myself, meanwhile I found out – it’s Article 10, 11 and 12 on the State President, and in the layout of the Közlöny p. 28/29 is the center page, that’s all.

      • @Pusztaranger: Thanks so much for this info, and thanks for everything else you do on your blog and on the internet raising awareness about issues like this abroad!

      • Gretchen Dunn says:

        Thanks! so it’s about education, work and special care for children, women and the elderly. Seems to be about personal responsibility for the good of the whole.

  7. Pingback: Verfassungsblog › Verfassungsaltäre in allen ungarischen Rathäusern

  8. iam@yourfather.com says:

    Előre is elnézést, ha kissé elragad az indulat …

    Tudok angolul, de ez most mellékes. Ha már az országról szólsz, amelyben lakom, hadd írjak már neked a nyelvén.

    Tudod mit? Lakjanak a te földeden olyanok, akik hazád régi térkép-körvonalait “rántotthúsnak” csúfolják, és sajnálkoznak, hogy annak idején nem vágták meg még kisebbre. Egykori királyaid koronáját “svájci sapkának” nevezik, az alapító uralkodód egyetlen megmaradt ereklyéjét “tetemcafatozzák” és ha szóvá teszed e dolgokat, akkor “náci” a neved a szájukon. És ne legyél megsértődve.

    Az ország ellenségeinek összejátszása, vagy a mások vagy önmaguk által fenyegetett és lebéklyózott vagy alapból pipogya egykori vezetőid miatt, mindegy, de elvesztetted minden háborúdat, forradalmadat, szabadságharcodat, ma pedig elveszik a pénzedet, földedet, történelmi emlékezetedet, beléd rúgnak, leköpnek, angolul gúnyolnak és neveznek szinte már egy darab szarnak, és ne legyél ideges. Hát ezt kívánom neked.

    Mindezt a nyugati civilizáció szülőföldjnek, Európának kellős közepén, a XXI. században, több mint 20 évvel a kommunizmus kelet-európai bukása után …

    Hát senkinek se legyen szíve egy megalázott népet rugdosni, s az olyanoknak, akik e szerint nem is a szülöttei, ne legyen joguk idegenként leköpdösni és kiröhögni. Nekem már egy ideje kezd fájni. Nem vagyok náci, sosem szerettem őket. De a hazám maradék méltóságát bántókat engedd már meg, hogy ne szeressem, jó?

    Tudod, én szívből megvetem ezt a pojáca-sereget, amelyik a döglött kommunista oroszlán tetemein ugrálva kiskirályosdit játszik, az egyszerű népet pedig tökéletesen idiótának nézi, és ha néha mégsem az, akkor minden eszközzel megpróbál mégis azt csinálni belőle.

    Én is röhejesnek tartom az alkotmány körüli felhajtást, de pl. az, hogy a Monty Python viccet csinált Angliából, nem jelentette azt, hogy a világ színpadán a britek lettek volna a bohócok.

    Márpedig azt látom, hogy a dolog az ország egyértelmű lejáratására megy ki, mivel nem az Orbán ellenlábasai vannak hatalmon, és kicsinyes óvodai háborúzásukat a külföld elé viszik. Tudom, hogy korábban Orbánék is ezt tették, és azt is szégyelltem.

    Sajnálom, hogy itt csak ezek között lehet választani, és nem adatott más: vagy a szocik, vagy a libsik, vagy az Orbán vagy a nácik. Egyiket sem akartam. Itt nélkülem dől el, hogy mi van.

    Ha ilyen fontosak vagyunk nekd, gyere ide, alapíts pártot, csinálj jól menő gazdaságot, erős közmegegyezést, cselekedj az értéket eremtő többség érdekében, és emeld fel ezt az országot, a nagyok közé, de ne köpködd, ha ilyen szándékkal regnáló elit nélkül a szerencsétlenkedésben és a megosztottságban fuldoklik.

    Lerhetnél kissé megértőbb is.

    Ennyit szerettem volna mondani.

  9. iam@yourfather.com says:

    errata:

    “teremtő”
    “neked”
    “lehetnél”

    sorry

  10. Pingback: Die neuen Verfassungsaltäre in den ungarischen Rathäusern « Pusztaranger

  11. iam@yourfather.com says:

    És úgy érzed, ez olyan könnyű errefelé ?!? Amikor maga a “politka”, annak néhány pártja és annak napi sajtója tapos a személyes emberi érzésekbe, ahogyan a nácizmus és a kommunizmus is tette ???

    A szülőföld szeretete, amire pl. Amerikában is tanítanak (hogy közelebbi országokat ne említsek), ugyanolyan politikai fogalom is, mint amennyire szubjektív érzés, a hazáért vagy a nemzetért élni és halni eszménye meg aztán végképp.

    Barátságokat, szerelmeket, családokat téptek szét itt az évtizedek, a pártviszályok, az emberek egymás árulóivá vagy kiszolgálóivá lettek, sokszor “salamoni” döntések elé kényszerítettek bennünket, átmosták az agyunkat a hagymázas eszmékkel, többször is.

    Ma pedig a szélsőséges liberálisokon a sor.

    Boldog lehetsz, ó, szabad ország fia, ha az vagy. Téged csak most vesznek meg a szuper-szabadság gondolataival kilóra.

    De csak szólj, haver, ha unod már, és ígérem, nem zaklatlak. Elvége jogod van azt írni, amit csak akarsz.

  12. Gretchen Dunn says:

    Unfortunately, my magyarul is not good enough to read iam@yourfather.com. This blog is in English, so, one would wish the comments were also!

  13. iam@yourfather.com says:

    Use the Google language tools :)
    I know that’s terrible but maybe helps in some things

    It’s better to understand a country if you knows its language!
    Make judgments about it if you understand it!

    My English is not so expressive to explain my feelings about such critics to my people …
    Sorry.

    • Rigo Jancsi says:

      This is the old, ever the same argument: You don’t speak our language, you don’t understand our culture, you don’t understand our country, don’t judge if you don’t understand. This is bullshit. First of all, there are enough foreigners who speak Hungarian well enough to understand. Nem igaz hogy magyarúl a legnehézebb nyelv a világon! And secondly, the way the current government is attacking democracy has nothing to do with Hungarian culture, language or whatsoever. As a well-known politician said in the European parliament: We are critizising Orbán and his kind, not Hungary or Hungarians in general. Please notice this difference.

  14. EBE says:

    @ iam@yourfather.com, I can understand your frustration about how things are shaping up in Hungary. For your information my whole family (parents, siblings, cousins) are residents of Hungary. I guess you consider them Hungarians because they are residents of Hungary, speak the language and in our knowledge lived in the Karpathian Basin “forever”. Is this what it takes to be Hungarian or you should not be a gipsy, a Jew, homosexual, leftist, communists. Do you have to be quiet, and not raise your voice to be called Hungarian? You take this macho stand of “real man do not complain”. It is so childish that is not even considered bullying. Real man, do speak up and do everything in their power to make the life of others better. Real man call on those who are responsible for injustice, not on those who bring attention to problems. I think “The Contrarian Hungarian” has way more love for OUR country that you can ever imagine, as he looks at for all when critics. You, you look at of for the perception: “My goodness, what people going to think?” What did you do iam@yourfather.com to make Hungary a better place, to make an inclusive Hungary?

  15. EBE says:

    I can see that I made a whole bunch of grammatical errors, an repetitions. I typed everything out, corrected, and pasted in my original rumbling without the corrections. I apologize for that.
    One more thing iam@yourfather: Some of us had to leave Hungary, because we fought for the rights of others, and we did not have the good luck of being put in high positions before 1989 or after. My Hungary still includes me, but my other half is not Hungarian, still I have the same right to worry for my country, and I have more right to speak up for it then those who done nothing prior to 1989 or those who choose not to do anything now.

  16. iam@yourfather.com says:

    Hi again – this time on English

    Sorry, for the pause, but i was in Prague for a week – and i saw there a better place … I will answer later. I just feel someones had ruined my country’s hope for a better life in the recent 22 years, and NOT OF ALL was US … i think it strongly. I just want the truth about our destiny from the recent past and declare it: WHAT WAS WRONG? Who was / is responsible? I just wanted to be a citizen of a Western-modeled / styled country in my youth (Like i saw now).

    - What rights for others if we haven’t rights for US? In their history the citizens of the luckiest states have been fought the rights for THEMSELVES first – and rights of the others only were the next step – and these were LONG steps … Changing the form of government and removing the occupying foreign troops is not all! -

    And I see now a total chaos in the minds, and a bunch of hopelessness. Wars in the words, wars in the heads, wars between wrong ideologies – and “no money” at all. (I think we HAVE enough, but not for the needful purposes – going to the money-holders’ friends, relatives etc.) Outsiders and outlanders blaming us, they told us what to do or do not instead of REAL help, they digging our trenches further … it’s sad.

    Sorry.

    More next time!

    • Iam! We missed you too :-))))). Be sure to read the next post on the forex loan repayment issue as well (it’s a little lengthy, but perhaps for good reasons). I think you might be appropriately aggravated by some of my claims, let me know if that’s true.

  17. Pingback: Hungarian Protest Art Competition: What Else Could Viktor Orbán Get His Hands On? | The Contrarian Hungarian

  18. iam@yourfather.com says:

    Helló!

    Az a baj, hogy a gazdaságoz ne sokat értak, de azt látom, hogy minenki olyan számokkal meg százalékokkal dobálódzik, amilyenekkel akar, úgysem fogja fillérenkén ki-abakuszozni senki. Azt hiszem az nem az én asztalom, de azértelolvasom …

    No, most nem írok sokat, csak ennyit: Ti azért olvasgassátok, ha épp ráértek a békés életetekben az itt íródott magyar blogokban és vitafórmokon a kertészákos-ügy generálta véleményeket, aztán ki-ki döntsön: hová is tartozik ebben a kérdésben …

    Egyébként a dolog még sokkal szörnyűbb, ha az alaptételéből kihagyjuk a “genetikailag” szót. Ízelgessétek, mit írt, ízelgessétek, milyen névtelenek hogyan magyarázzák, még jobban rúgva arcba a népet a saját földjén, aztán ítélkezzetek, ha tudtok.

    Én csak annyit mondok: ha egy akármilyen magyar komány nem vszi el ettől a póktól még a magyar állampolgárságát is, akkor sajnos IGAZA LESZ.

    Bye now

  19. iam@yourfather.com says:

    bocs a hibákért, nem figyeltem, gyorsan írtam …

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