Eőtvös Károly Institute

The Eötvös Károly Institute strives to improve and strengthen the citizens political culture based on the spirit of solidarity.



És mi lesz az alkotmánnyal? [And What About the Constitution?]

Hungary’s accession to the European Union gave fresh currency to the issue of the Constitution, including the question of amendments or a new Constitution altogether. For a long time, it had seemed that nobody was really interested in this problem, while the opportunities of constitutional amendments were often exploited to advance off-the-cuff ideas. In 2003, the authors of the volume, László Majtényi and Zoltán Miklósi, organized a conference on the Constitutional Court. The heated discussion at the forum made it clear that each speaker at the conference was keenly aware of the broad social purport of the topic, and in their talks all made an effort to eschew political science jargon that would baffle outsiders. As a result, a general readership will find it easier to connect to the essays contributed by such notable professionals and politicians as László Sólyom, András Arató, László Majtényi, János Kis, Gábor Halmai, Tamás Győrfi, József Szájer, Boldizsár Nagy, Tamás Kende, Pál Sonnevend, Botond Bitskey, Péter Hack, András Sajó, György Wiener, Péter Paczola, and Ilona Kovács.

Az elektronikus információszabadság [Electronic Freedom of Information]

“Perhaps no genre is more superfluous than the editorial preface introducing a volume of essays. Its only claim to legitimacy may well be sheer and suspect editorial habit. For if the hopeful reader has already picked up the tome, he will hardly be deterred by the most pretentious or the dullest preface, as long as the title or one of the contributing authors has piqued his interest. And if the hopeful reader has not picked up the book, what good is the wittiest preface intended to whet his appetite?

In any case, we now invite you, the proverbial gentle reader, to peruse at least the Table of Contents before setting aside this volume for good.”

The volume was unveiled on March 17, 2005, on the A38 Ship. The Table of Contents, Introduction, and the content in two installments can be downloaded from the site.

Az olvasó védelmében [In Defense of the Reader]

Excerpt from the Foreword by György Baló:

“Forget the daily Magyar Hírlap; this spectacle is much more spacious than that. Indeed, the entirety of Hungarian media may be at stake. What lends special merit to the failure of the Eötvös Károly Institute’s enterprise–a fiasco so precious as to amount to a minor victory–is the fact that it succeeds, wittingly or unwittingly, in charting and exposing much of the incongruity that characterizes not just the Magyar Hírlap, but Hungarian mainstream media across the board. While the work does not manage–perhaps does not even aspire–to resolve these contradictions, it certainly identifies quite a few of them, and offers advice that is not only soft-spoken and diplomatic but, for the most part, easily comprehended and followed as well. This work, and hopefully more of the same, may eventually–many, many years down the line–lead to a journalism in print, television, and radio that is more honest, more genuine, and more sophisticated at the same time. But it is not going to happen overnight.”

Politika és Iskola [Politics in the School]

The pamphlet contains the edited versions of lectures delivered in March 2005 at a conference co-hosted by the Commissioner for Education Rights and the Eötvös Károly Institute. The contributors include the ethologist Vilmos Csányi, the psychologist Tamás Vekerdy, the sociologist Mihály Csákó, the high school principal Tas Szebedy, and the constitutional lawyer Bernadette Somody. Intended to demarcate the boundaries of the inroads politics should be allowed to make in educational institutions, our Recommendations on “Politics in the School,” published in this pamphlet, drew some of their inspiration from the thoughts and observations of contributors to the conference. In fact, the manuscript of this “Code” was sent to each conference participant for comments. Finalized in this way, the Recommendations can be endorsed by anyone in agreement with their thrust.

Human Rights in the Domain of Health Care Decisions

This English-language essay by Judit Fridli situates its subject of patient rights in the historic context of post-communist Hungary, where the habits of a paternalist heritage remain deeply ingrained. Beyond pointing to gaps between legal regulation and actual practice concerning the self-determination of medical patients, Fridli deals separately with self-determination related to reproductive rights and the right to refuse life-sustaining interventions. The author ends the essay by articulating proposals for legislation and legal application.

Privacy Protection and Minority Rights

Privacy Protection and Minority RightsThe exercise of additional minority rights–in other words, the use of institutions of positive discrimination–conceptually presupposes some kind of definition of eligibility criteria and thus a certain form of identifying individuals. If the law permits citizens to affirm an identity without any legal strings attached, even as it extends certain additional minority rights or applies measures of positive discrimination, then it is up to the individual, and no one else, to decide, completely freely, whether to avail himself or herself of these benefits. In the absence of identification, these additional rights would become available to the majority rather than the minority to whom they are truly intended to accrue. This would set the stage for abuse and ultimately deprive the measures in question of their positive discriminatory essence. It is equally important to bear in mind, however, that the identification of minority status and associated records place certain restrictions on fundamental constitutional rights, particularly those to human dignity, self-determination, the discretionary affirmation of identity, and the protection of personal data. It follows from this that no manner of identification and records can be acceptable unless it respects the fundamental constitutional rights of individuals and satisfies the formal and substantive criteria of constitutionality with regard to restricting a fundamental right. The essays collected here examine the options available under Hungarian law of identifying minority status and keeping such information on file. One of the articles presents the results of a research project that demonstrates the existence of negative discrimination in police practices related to identity checks. (Download the electronic version of the book.)