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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.1 General context

Last update: 26 March 2022
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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. (Youth Policy Review, 2016)
Parliamentary elections

'In a democracy, electoral freedom is a fundamental right'. [About the State of Hungary (a magyar államról)] In Hungary parliamentary elections are organised every fourth year while local governments and the European parliamentary elections are held in every fifth year. 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 its direct suffrage.

Suffrage or its full exercise is dependent on the place of residence. The court might prohibit those people who committed a 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 the national lists. The election system consists of a one-round voting. While for the single-member constituency simple majority is enough to get into the National Assembly (relative majority election system), for the proportional representation from national lists there is a 5% threshold to be reached. [National Election Office (Nemzeti Választási Iroda)]

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. [The Hungarian Parliament (az Országgyűlés)] 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 8 May 2018, 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, electing different public dignitaries and the Prime Minister. [The Hungarian Parliament (az országgyűlés)]

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 primary duties are the followings: launching new acts, initiating preliminary control of acts concerning their conformity to the Fundamental Law, returning acts to the parliament for reconsideration, appointing, absolving and nominating different public dignitaries. The President of the Republic also has a role in controlling the 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. [About the State of Hungary (a magyar államról)] The Government is accountable by the Parliament (az Országgyűlés) and it acts on behalf of the majority. [The Hungarian Parliament (az országgyűlés)] 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 (Alkotmánybíróság) 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 (bírósági szervezetrendszer) 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 a 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 local government system and the officials (az önkormányzati rendszer és a tisztségviselők); Fundamental Exam of Administrative Basics (Alapvizsga)]

The tasks and responsibilities of the local self-government [Municipal administration (Önkormányzati igazgatás 2018)] are practised by the board member representatives and it is led by the mayor. The citizens elect the board member representatives through direct and secret elections, the citizens have equal and universal suffrage. The local governments and the state authorities and bodies cooperate for the sake of the community goals.