Declaring that long-standing rule of law and democracy issues in Hungary “remain largely unaddressed”, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has voted to place the country under its full monitoring procedure.
Hungary joins ten other Council of Europe member States currently under full monitoring,* which involves regular visits by a pair of PACE rapporteurs, ongoing dialogue with the authorities, and periodic assessments of how far a member State is honouring its Council of Europe obligations and commitments.
In a resolution based on a report by George Papandreou (Greece, SOC) and Eerik-Niiles Kross (Estonia, ALDE), the Assembly said that the widespread use of cardinal laws, which require two-thirds majorities, “severely restricts political pluralism, which is the hallmark of a democratic system”.
Recent legal changes and problems with election laws mean that the current electoral framework “does not ensure a level playing field conducive to fair elections”, the parliamentarians also concluded, making a series of recommendations as regards elections, the judiciary and the media.
Among other things, the Assembly also expressed concern at the country’s use of a special legal order since 2020, which allows the triggering of a “state of danger”. Such orders should be “strictly necessary, proportionate and must be limited in time”, it said.
The Assembly noted a series of 17 changes to existing laws last month which aimed to improve the functioning of democratic institutions, strengthening transparency and tightening the rules on conflict of interest, and invited the Hungarian authorities to request the expertise of relevant Council of Europe bodies on these changes.
* Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Serbia, Türkiye and Ukraine.