Four new judges were confirmed to the Constitutional Court of Hungary in a vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday, 4 July. Four former judges on the 15-member panel had just served out their 12-year-long term limit. Egon Dienes-Oehm, Béla Pokol, Péter Szalay and Mária Szívós will no longer sit on the Constitutional Court’s bench.
Four new members were nominated to the Court by the governing Fidesz-KDMP coalition. The opposition parties only put forth one nominee of their own, a former MP for the Socialist Party (MSZP), Gergely Bárándy. However, he failed to gain enough support in the House Committee, thus his nomination was not even put to a vote.
A two-thirds majority is needed to confirm a judge to the Constitutional Court bench. All four nominees by Fidesz-KDMP managed to secure the votes needed—no surprise there, as the party coalition has held the Constitution-amending supermajority since 2010. Most of the opposition party MPs did not even show up for the vote, only 150 members recorded their choice either in favour or against the judges. All nominees received exactly 136 votes—from the 135 Fidesz-KDMP members, plus one maverick from the opposition.
Here are the four new judges on the Constitutional Court.
Mária Ádám-Haszonics, who was the chief notary public at the Budapest Mayor’s office under former Mayor István Tarlós, then worked in former President János Áder’s staff; Zoltán Lomnici, who served as the President of the Supreme Court (which was later reformed into the Curia of Hungary) between 2008 and 2012, and is currently an advisor to the President of the Curia; András Patyi, a former notary public, rector of the University of Public Service, and chief advisor to the Constitutional Court; and finally, Réka Varga, a former advisor to Ministry of Justice and the Hungarian Red Cross, as well as the former dean of the Faculty of Public Governance and International Studies at the University of Public Service.
What Does the Constitutional Court of Hungary Do?
The Constitutional Court of Hungary predates the first democratically elected government after the fall of the Socialist regime, having been established in 1989. It set up the rules for the first parliamentary elections of the Third Hungarian Republic, held in the spring of 1990.
It has the power of judicial review, meaning it can strike down laws passed by parliament if it deems it violates the Fundamental Law of Hungary, without the possibility of an appeal. The President of the Republic can also refer laws for review to the Constitutional Court instead of signing them, a process known as ‘constitutional veto’. The Court’s current president is Justice Tamás Sulyok, serving in the role since 2016.