Hungary high court endorses opposition referendum on economic reforms

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Hungary [official website] ruled Tuesday in favor of a proposed referendum on unpopular economic reform proposals advanced by Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany [BBC profile]. A coalition of opposition parties including the Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ), the Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP), and the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) [party websites] had sought a referendum on Gyurscany's plan to terminate government subsidies for expenses related to doctor appointments, hospitalization, and public universities. If the plan is defeated, the opposition may be able to gather enough support for early National Assembly [official website] elections and topple the fragile existing coalition government.

The high court ruling reverses a prior ruling by the National Election Committee [official website], which barred the referendum on the grounds that it would have affected the budget in violation of Article 28C-5a of the Hungarian Constitution [text]. Gyurcsany's government has contended with lower support since September of last year, following the release of audiotapes indicating the his government had intentionally misled voters [BBC report] on economic conditions and policies to win re-election. The disclosure led to violent confrontations between police and rioters. AFP has more.

 

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