19 Apr 2011

New Hungarian constitution approved

1:23 pm on 19 April 2011

Parliament in Hungary has voted in favour of a new constitution despite a boycott by opposition parties.

It was passed by 262 votes in favour to 44 against with one abstention - reflecting the two-thirds majority enjoyed by the governing party, Fidesz.

The BBC reports that the government says the new constitution ends the transition of Hungary from a totalitarian to a democratic system, but its critics say Fidesz is imposing divisive right-wing ideology on the country.

Two opposition parties - the Greens and the Socialists - walked out of parliament before the vote while a third voted against it.

One article limiting the size of the national debt has won international praise.

More controversial is the preamble which stresses Hungary's Christian roots.

Other criticisms include limits to the authority of the constitutional court and a reduction in the number of parliamentary ombudsmen.

A paragraph on the protection of the unborn child is seen as having the potential to open the way to limits on abortion.