Fidesz restricts opposition's options in Parliament
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On Tuesday, the National Assembly passed an amendment to the Parliament's Rules of Procedure submitted by lawmakers of governing coalition Fidesz and KDNP. The changes seem minor at first, but they significantly reduce the opposition's chance to cooperate.
Independent MPs can no longer join groups
The new regulation stipulates that "Independent lawmakers and lawmakers who became independent cannot take part in the formation of parliamentary groups, and cannot join parliamentary groups." The explanatory memorandum states that this is necessary to make sure that lawmakers perform their duties either within the party they were in when they were elected or as an independent MP.
What Fidesz basically wanted to prevent with this amendment is opposition candidates running independently en masse only to form their parliamentary groups once elected, as, during the municipal campaign, many opposition politicians ran as independent candidates with informal party support.
The new rules also make sure that independent lawmakers stay that way: Previously, the rules prescribed a six-month period before an independent lawmaker could join a group. Now though, "If an MP quit his group or was expelled from it, they are not allowed to join another parliamentary group. This provision also applies to MPs who won their mandates as independent candidates and MPs who ran as candidates of a party but did not participate in the formation of the parliamentary group."
Parliamentary groups cannot be renamed
Joint opposition candidates running under the logos of several parties was a common practice at the 2019 municipal elections. That will become more difficult as well at the upcoming general election in 2022. The new regulation states that parliamentary groups' names cannot differ from what the name they used at the election.
"Parliamentary groups can only be named as the parties defined in paragraph (1). Names of joint parliamentary groups shall incorporate the names of all participating parties," the new regulation states, and the explanatory memorandum elaborates: "Names of the parliamentary groups must be the same as the nominating organisations in order to reflect electoral intention."
Parliamentary groups cannot split
As the explanatory memorandum puts it, "without prejudice to the guarantees of a free mandate, it must be ensured that the composition of the Parliament most accurately reflects the structure and power relations of nominating organisations running at the elections, thus reflecting in the National Assembly the electoral intention expressed at the election through the proportions of parliamentary groups."
The new rules will not allow parliamentary groups to split either. So for instance, if at the next elections, parties of a fragmented opposition decided to run on a joint list in an electoral system favouring monolithic political structures, they would be forced to stay within the same parliamentary group for the entire cycle.
(Cover: MPs voting in the Parliament on 3 December 2019. Photo: Noémi Bruzák / MTI)
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