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A service of Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R ~ GB
HOW TO REGULATE AND ORGANISE A STATE
A referendum held in early March 2008 has been widely reported. I&R
~ GB reviews the regulations for Citizens' Direct Democracy in a
country of the European Union.
From the Constitution of Hungary
Chapter I General Provisions
Article 2 [Democracy, Rule of Law, Sovereignty]
(1) The Republic of Hungary is an independent, democratic
(2) In the Republic of Hungary supreme power is vested in the people,
who exercise their sovereign rights directly and through elected
The Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
The "instruments" for direct democracy are Paragraph 28 of the
Constitution and the Third Law of 1998 on national referendums and
initiatives. Everyone who is eligible to vote in the national elections
can participate in referendums and initiatives.
According to the constitution, a referendum can be either consultative
There are cases in which a referendum is obligatory; otherwise
Parliament can choose whether or not to hold one.
If 200,000 eligible voters initiate it a referendum MUST be held; if
the referendum is successfully carried out and the quorum reached then
the outcome is binding on Parliament.
If the referendum is initiated by 100,000 voters, by the president of
the republic, the government, or one third of the Members of
Parliament, then Parliament has the right to decide whether or not to
hold a referendum.
Before the collection of signatures can begin, a copy of the signature
forms must be presented to the National Election Committee (NEC) for
verification. The NEC can deny verification only if the question is not
in the jurisdiction of Parliament, if it is not eligible for a national
referendum, and/or if the formulation of the question and/or the form
for collecting signatures does not comply with the law. The initiative
can be presented to the chairman of the NEC within 4 months after
An obligatory referendum is automatically binding. Also binding is a
referendum on a law adopted by parliament but not yet signed by the
president of the republic. A referendum initiated by the president, the
government or one third of the members of parliament can be either
consultative or binding, depending on the decision of the parliament. A
binding referendum is successful if more than 50% of the valid votes
cast are in favor and if these represent more than 25% of the
Referendum March 2008.
Over two hundred thousand endorsements for the referendum proposal had
been collected so the government was obliged to organise a referendum.
The referendum addressed three topics
-- Fees paid for visiting a medical practice, 82.5
-- Fee demanded for an inpatient stay in hospital, 84.1
-- Fee (planned for Autumn 2008) demanded from students for attending
university or college, 82.3
The electors were called to veto these items of government policy.
The figures shown are the percentage results after 99 percent of votes
had been counted.
Some commentators have criticised the referendum topics as trivial but
this Initiative may be seen as part of a decade-long campaign to oppose
privatisation and commercialisation of health and educational services.
Acknowledgements to IRI-Europe; Der Standard (Austria); net-tribune.de
About I&R ~ GB
We advocate the introduction of direct democratic procedures such as
citizens' initiative, issue-ballot, referendum, and recall in the
Britain and Northern Ireland. With over ten years' experience
we put forward proposals, provide campaign resources, offer to
speakers, organise workshops and conferences.
Web site: http://www.iniref.org