Pols gone wild: Stiffer fines planned in Hungarian parliament

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Plans to substantially increase fines for unruly conduct in the Hungarian parliament are in the works following a series of incidents this year and last year. 

The caucus leader of the ruling conservative Fidesz, Máté Kocsis, who proposed the fines, said the bad behavior from politicians is setting a bad example in the country.

“Parliament must be a place for respect is no place for foul language or breach of order,” said Kocsis. “It would also be quite disturbing if the aggression shown by opposition MPs would become a model for behavior in the larger society.”

Just this October, an opposition MP walked in front of the dais where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was speaking and raised a board with invectives written on it, while last December opposition MPs blocked the stairs so the Speaker of the House could not get to his seat where he oversees parliamentary sessions.

Kocsis said that several countries, such as Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany have much stricter rules, including the exclusion of unruly MPs for eight subsequent sessions in Belgium and a 30-session ban in Germany.

He added that current fines – usually around one-third of an MP’s monthly wage – are not properly deterring unruly behavior.

He proposed that fines be raised twelve times from their current level. This would mean that in the most extreme cases, like the above-mentioned incident when the Speaker of the House was prevented from performing his duties, the fine could be as much as six months’ worth of an MP’s wage.

According to a rule introduced this year, Hungarian MPs’ salaries are raised each year to an amount that is three times the gross national average. This means that in 2019, a Hungarian MP’s base salary – excluding payments for expenses, staff and committee memberships – is a gross 989,700 forints or a net of 658,151 forints (€1,970).

According to the latest (June-August average) data from the Central Statistics Office, net wages in the Hungarian economy stood at 239,255 forints (€716).

Title image: Opposition MPs block the stairs leading to the Speaker of the House’s seat on Dec. 12, 2018 (MTI/Zoltán Máthé)

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