Justice Minister Judit Varga has submitted a new bill on behalf of the Orbán administration, which would among other things, stipulate that the Chief Prosecutor can only be removed from office by a qualified (two-thirds) majority instead of a simple majority, Telex reports.
According to the proposal, the chief prosecutor could in future be removed from office only by the consent of two-thirds of MPs, similar to the positions of the National Office for the Judiciary, Hungary’s top court Kúria, the State Audit Office, and the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights.
The official justification states that the amendment of the current rule is necessary because the election of the chief prosecutor also requires a two-thirds majority, and the directive on the termination of the mandate would be adjusted accordingly.
Only six months before the no doubt closely contested 2022 general elections in Hungary, the timing of the bill is unlikely to be a coincidence.
Hungary’s current chief prosecutor, former (governing) Fidesz party member, Péter Polt, is now serving his third term, extended last time in 2019 for nine years until 2028.
During his time in office, Péter Polt has received a lot of criticism and is accused of severe political bias as the prosecutor’s office he leads usually finds nothing to investigate in several suspected corruption cases linked to ruling Fidesz and its circles. Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s office stance is said to be different when it comes to opposition politicians.
FactCurrently, the chief prosecutor is elected by a qualified majority of the parliament to nine-year terms. Additionally, the duties of the chief prosecutor are performed until the successor takes office. In other words, the mandate of the incumbent prosecutor is automatically extended until parliament can elect a successor by a two-thirds majority. Moreover, parliament can only relieve the chief prosecutor of his mandate if the President of Hungary so recommends.
Polt’s name often surfaced during the campaign of the opposition primaries, with all the prime ministerial candidates of the opposition parties having promised to remove him from his position immediately in case of their election victory.
In addition to the new amendment, the government has also submitted drafts that would change the rules for the appointment and dismissal of other public officials.
The president of the Hungarian Energy and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority would no longer be appointed by the prime minister for a seven-year term, but by the president of Hungary on the proposal of the prime minister, and his dismissal would also be under the authority of the head of state.
The same would apply to the president of the newly created public body, the Regulatory Activities Authority.
Featured photo by Tibor Illyés/MTI