Defense of homeland a national matter – a look at the latest proposed amendments to Hungary's Fundamental Law

November 22. 2023. – 10:37 AM


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The Hungarian government is planning to amend the country's Fundamental Law, which had previously been described as rock solid, for the twelfth time. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén submitted the amendment proposal to Parliament on Tuesday evening.

As part of the sovereignty protection package, the Fundamental Law would – among others – be amended to include the sentence:

"The protection of Hungary's constitutional identity and Christian culture is the duty of all state authorities".

In the future, safeguarding constitutional identity would be the responsibility of an independent body, the Sovereignty Protection Authority (also to be established).

Another portion of the text of the Fundamental Law would also be modified. Up until now, the text stated that "each Hungarian citizen is obliged to defend their homeland". If the parliament's two-thirds majority approves the government's proposal, it will also include the statement that

"the defense of the homeland is a national matter".

One of the most important, and certainly not symbolic features of the twelfth amendment to the Fundamental Law will be that in the future, instead of Parliament, the government would be the one to decide on the legal status of professional members of the Hungarian Defence Forces. In the case of certain provisions that have until now been regulated by law, the government would be allowed to introduce them by decree. According to the proposal, the detailed regulations would be prepared by the Minister of Defense.

The proposal also states that

"No trade union may be formed and operate in relation to the legal status of the professional members of the Hungarian Defense Forces".

In the future, forming a trade union within the Hungarian Defense Forces would only be possible if it is in accordance with the rules laid down in the government decree.

The proposal also stipulates that, as part of the introduction of digital citizenship, the state will in the future provide everyone with a unique digital ID. According to the amendment to the Fundamental Law, the state will "handle the data necessary for conducting the citizens' administrative affairs digitally".

In recent weeks Antal Rogán, head of the Prime Minister's Office, has repeatedly talked about launching the Digital Citizenship programme next year, which will enable the verification of the citizens' identity over the phone. Speaking before the parliament's Economic Committee, he said that electronic signatures and electronic identification will be available via a mobile app as early as next year, which he believes will significantly simplify the process of administration. There are also plans to introduce an electronic mail service and a document archive later on, and as these services will be available throughout Europe within a few years, Rogán said that citizens will be able to use "everything from fishing licenses to firearms licenses" electronically throughout Europe.

The minister insists that there is no risk involved in digital citizenship, as those who don't want to take advantage of it can simply choose not to download the app. "It is not true that the state will know more about people than it does now. It will only have access to the data it has already been storing," Rogán said, trying to dispel concerns.

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