History and Interpretation in the Fundamental Law of Hungary

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. Historical constitution. – III. Constitutional identity. – IV. Christian culture. – V. History and interpretation. – V.1. Achievements of the historical constitution. – V.2. Constitutional identity. – V.3. Christian culture. – VI. Conclusion: partisan tendencies and neutralising efforts.

Abstract: This Article focuses on some of the rules of interpretation contained in the Fundamental Law of Hungary (Art. R), which, while not belonging to the class of “memory laws” in the strict sense, make use of certain historically charged concepts. These concepts, examined in the first part of the Article in turn, are 1) the “achievements of the historical constitution”, 2) the “constitutional identity”, and 3) the “Christian culture” of Hungary. It is argued that in terms of their substance, these are open to competing historical interpretations. The second part of the Article deals with the pragmatic aspect of these provisions, that is, 4) their functions in constitutional interpretation. Based on that, the conclusion summarises 5) the role and motivation of historicising concepts both from the perspective of the constitution-maker and that of constitutional lawyers.

Keywords: fundamental law of Hungary – rule of law – historical constitution – constitutional identity – Christian culture – constitutional interpretation.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 1, pp. 161-174
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/388

* Research Fellow, HAS CSS Institute for Legal Studies; Associate Professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, konczol.miklos@jak.ppke.hu.
** Assistant Professor, National University of Public Service, kevevari.istvan@uni-nke.hu.


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