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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.1 General context

Last update: 1 April 2024
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  1. Main Concepts
  2. Institutions of representative democracy

Main concepts

Active participation is a crucial element of transition from youth to adulthood. Active participation has several forms, among others:

  • civic participation,
  • cultural engagement in politics or
  • active online presence.
Parliamentary elections

'In a democracy, electoral freedom is a fundamental right'. [About the State of Hungary (a magyar államról)]

In Hungary, parliamentary elections are organized every fourth years, while local governments and the European parliamentary elections are organized every fifth years. According to the Fundamental Law, all Hungarian citizens of adult age (18 years old) have the right to vote and to be elected. The election is conducted by secret ballot and direct suffrage.

Suffrage or its full exercise is dependent on the place of residence. The court might prohibit those people who committed crime or have limited capacity to act from exercising the right of suffrage.

Since the last change of the electoral law, the National Assembly has 199 seats instead of the previous 386. 106 seats are elected in the single-member constituency, and the other 93 seats are assigned based on national lists. The election system consists of a one round voting. While for the single-member constituency simple majority is enough get into the National Assembly (relative majority election system), for the proportional representation from national lists there is a 5% threshold to be reached.

Institutions of representative democracy

According to the Fundamental Law of Hungary,

'Hungary is an independent, democratic constitutional state, its form of government is a parliamentary republic.'

The central decision-making body is the parliament/National Assembly. The government holds the supreme executive power while jurisdiction is exercised by the courts. At the local level, the local governments ensure the representation of citizens.

Parliament/National Assembly

'Parliament is the supreme state power and representation of people.' [About the State of Hungary (a magyar államról)]

Through direct and secret elections the members of the parliament are elected for 4 years by the citizens who have equal and universal suffrage. The current parliament/National Assembly (with 199 members) has been operating since 2 May 2022, its main scene of operation is the plenary session where all members are together. Its tasks, among others, are legislation, accepting the state budget and approving its execution, and electing different public dignitaries and the Prime Minister.

President of the Republic

'The President of the Republic is the public dignitaries in Hungary who shall safeguard the democratic operation of the state.' [About the State of Hungary (a magyar államról)]

He or she is elected for 5 years. His/her main tasks are the following: introduction of new laws, preliminary examination of laws for their conformity with the Fundamental Law, return of laws to parliament for reconsideration, appointment, dismissal and nomination of different public dignitaries. The President of the Republic also has a role in scrutinising parliament.

Main executive body

The main executive body is the government which consists of the Prime Minister and the ministers who are responsible for directing different ministries dealing with different public policies. The government is accountable by the parliament and it acts on behalf of the majority. It is the main body of public administration. The absolute majority of the parliament elects the Prime Minister.

Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of Hungary is the main body protecting the Fundamental Law.

'The Constitutional Court operates independently from the general court and its main task is to protect the Fundamental Law.' [About the State of Hungary (a magyar államról)]

The parliament elects the fifteen members of the Court with qualified majority (the vote of two-thirds of all representatives) for a term of twelve years. In the Hungarian judicial system the courts are responsible for jurisdiction. They decide in criminal and civil procedures, moreover, they are also responsible for the jurisdiction in public administration. The Curia is the highest judicial authority in Hungary, it decides about whether regional court decision is in conflict with the law and if so, it exterminates the regional court decision.

Local self-government

In Hungary, the community of citizens of local settlements has the right of local self-governance which means that the local public issues can be handled democratically by the local public authority according to the interest of the inhabitants. The law may define the rights and responsibilities of the local governments. The local governments are independent of the central power, protected by the Fundamental Law of Hungary.

The tasks and responsibilities of the local self-government are practised by the board member representatives and it is led by the mayor. The citizens shall elect the representatives of the Board by direct and secret ballot; the citizens shall have equal and universal suffrage. Local governments and state authorities and bodies cooperate for the benefit of community objectives.