Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hungarian Tea Party

Paul Krugman ran an article about what's happening in Hungary. Today he has an article by Kim Lane Scheppele explaining what going on there. Within one year of gaining a majority in the unicameral parliament the Fidesz party has scrapped the constitution and imposed a new one. One aspect is total control of the judiciary:
Under the new constitutional order, the judiciary has taken the largest hit. The Constitutional Court, which once had the responsibility to review nearly all laws for constitutionality, has been killed off in three ways. First, the government expanded the number of judges on the bench and filled the new positions with their own political allies (think: Roosevelt’s court-packing plan). Then, the government restricted the jurisdiction of the court so that it can no longer review any law that has an impact on the budget, like laws pertaining to taxes and austerity programs, unless the law infringes particular listed rights. Finally, the government changed the rules of access to the court so that it will no longer be easily able to review laws in the abstract for their compliance with the constitution. Moreover, individuals can no longer challenge the constitutionality of laws without first going through a lengthy process in the ordinary courts. The old Constitutional Court, which has served as the major check on governmental power in a unicameral parliamentary system, is now functionally dead.

The law on the judiciary also creates a new National Judicial Office with a single person at the helm who has the power to replace the retiring judges and to name future judges. This person also has the power to move any sitting judge to a different court. A new constitutional amendment – to the new constitution! – will permit both the public prosecutor and the head of this new National Judicial Office to choose which judge will hear each case.

The independence of the judiciary is over when a government puts its own judges onto the bench, moves them around at will, and then selects which ones get particular cases to decide.

I thought about making a few statements, but then read the comments and thought they're saying about what I'd say.

RMWeston Greensboro, NC
..Wonder who the Republicans sent over there to make photocopies so they don't have to write it all up themselves?

MSG New Jersey
..there is something about this story which obviously rang a bell with many readers. Its the introduction of a plethora of measures, many of which have a surface plausibility, but the totality of which tend towards entrenched single-party govenrment. The reason this sounds familiar is that the Republicans are currently engaged in exactly such an effort thru dozens of voter-supression bills being passed in states where they currently have the majority. The idea is to supress enough Democratic votes so that they never have to give up that majority. And now, on top of that, Newt wants to destroy judicial independence, a la Fidesz. The authoritarian mind never sleeps, they just keep chipping, chipping away at democracy. A powerful lesson for the USA.

james hogan smoky mountains
..Would you guess that in Georgia, USA, that you can only vote for the nominal "republican" or "democrat" parties? Third party votes are only counted when the outcome of the election could be affected by the number of votes cast by "other" ballots. So if you dare to vote for a different choice, you may as well not vote.
In case you haven't noticed, Georgia USA is not Hungary, but there isn't that much difference between them.

mcgloinm bowling green, ky
..Boy, doesn't that sound like what the tea party wants to be?

R. Law Florida
..It's not just Newtie; remember that Perry has proposed a 2/3 vote in Congress could over-ride SCOTUS decisions, and that life-time SCOTUS appointments become staggered terms of 9 years each.
Scary that an 8 year two-term president from either party could then replace at least 8 Justices or even all 9, if some retired :(
Tim Kane Mesa, Arizona
..Germany = Conservative,
France = Conservative
Britain = Conservative
Spain = Conservative
Italy = Conservative
It doesn't look good anywhere. The communists came to power in 1917 under conditions of war. In the post war crisis that began with the Great Depression, almost all continental countries (meaning Napoleonic/Civil Code countries) reacted to the crisis by adopting far right rogue ideological rule:
Italy, 1922 = Fascist
Germany 1933=Nazi
Spain 1936-39=Falangist,
Japan 1929-1935=Nationalist/Militarist
The only nation that went from right to left, was the United States, where the Great Depression started as a result of decade long right wing Republican party rule. The reaction against the Great Depression was to go from right to left.

I could go on, there are many good comments to this post, and if you're interested there are a few trolls out there screaming that he made a mistake in calling Hungarians of Slavic descent when they're Magyar. I love this reply:
Joseph O'Shaughnessy Downers Grove, Illinois
..Yes, they are not Slavs. Yes it was a misstatement. Oy.

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