Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hungary Shortens Official Name

Country Name: Hungary (English), Magyarország (Hungarian)
News Category: Name Changes
Summary: Hungary's full official name changed from "Republic of Hungary" to just "Hungary" when a new constitution came into effect in the Central European country at the beginning of this year.

Full Story
Map of Hungary from the CIA World Factbook (public domain)
A member of the Soviet-influenced Eastern Bloc during the Cold War, Hungary was one of the many European countries that underwent major reforms after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. Its name was changed from "People's Republic of Hungary" to "Republic of Hungary", and the old communist constitution was heavily amended to welcome in democracy.

Flag of Hungary (source)
However, uniquely among the former Eastern states, the old constitution was never completely discarded. Change finally came last year, when the Hungarian parliament, led by the conservative Fidesz party, began drafting a replacement constitution. The new document, which holds the historical distinction of being the first ever national constitution written on an iPad, was signed into law on April 25 and entered into effect on January 1, 2012. Curiously, the new text further reduces the country's official name from "Republic of Hungary" to just "Hungary".

Link: Full English text of Hungary's new constitution (PDF)

Hungary's location within the European Union (copyright
David Liuzzo, used with permission per its Wikimedia page)

To many of the new constitution's opponents, the name change symbolizes the authoritarian tendencies of Fidesz and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who they have nicknamed "Viktator". Opposition parties have complained that the constitution was pushed through without broad consensus, enshrining the ruling party's conservative ideology into the country's basic law. Among the document's right-wing provisions are clauses condemning gay marriage and abortion, as well as a pointed failure to protect sexual orientation under anti-discrimination measures. To those who see an anti-democratic constitution whose preamble appeals to a history of monarchy and Christianity, the deletion of "Republic" from Hungary's name is the icing on the cake.

News Report: Opposition protests fill Hungarian capital (Washington Post & Al-Jazeera)