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Hungary/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.1 Constitution

The two-thirds majority in the Parliament, which is required to effect changes in the text of the constitution, and which the Fidesz-KDNP party gained at the 2010 elections, was used to fully re-write and adopt the basic law by spring 2011. The preamble of this new Fundamental Law of Hungary, the National Avowal of Faith, contains references to culture:

We commit to promoting and safeguarding our heritage, our unique language, Hungarian culture, the languages and cultures of nationalities living in Hungary, along with all man-made and natural assets of the Carpathian Basin… We believe that our national culture is a rich contribution to the diversity of European unity…We respect the freedom and culture of other nations…

Specific references to culture:

Article P

All … cultural assets shall form part of the nation's common heritage, and the State and every person shall be obliged to protect, sustain and preserve them for future generations.

Article X.

(1) Hungary shall ensure the freedom of scientific research and artistic creation…

(3) Hungary shall defend the scientific and artistic freedom of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Hungarian Academy of Arts.

It is deplorable, however, that the most often cited part of the old Constitution with regard to culture has kept its ambiguous original wording:

XI. cikk

(1) Minden magyar állampolgárnak joga van a művelődéshez.

(2) Magyarország ezt a jogot a közművelődés kiterjesztésével és általánossá tételével … biztosítja

The word művelődés is commonly understood to be broader than education proper (for which there are also more specific terms), and includes the activities of participating in or "consuming" culture. Unfortunately the term is usually translated into foreign languages as education, including the official translation on the website of the government:

Article XI

(1) Every Hungarian citizen shall have the right to education.

(2) Hungary shall ensure this right by extending and generalising public education… 

This state of affairs creates the false understanding that the Hungarian constitution does not specify cultural rights as stipulated in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations. Nevertheless these passages have little direct impact on actual cultural phenomena in the country.

The hundreds of resolutions of the Constitutional Court have almost never touched upon this part of the constitution, and never in relation to culture.

Similarly, the records of the activities of the parliamentary Ombudsman of civic rights contain negligible instances that only relate to cultural rights.

Chapter published: 18-11-2016

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