Voting: Decisions requiring a qualified majority

Like other parliaments, the Hungarian National Assembly normally uses two forms of voting: open and secret ballot.

Votes cast by open ballot are normally counted using a machine dedicated to that purpose. As an exception, Members may vote with a show of hands (for instance, when adopting the orders of the day or deciding on a point of order). In general, the National Assembly decides on personnel matters (by casting votes) by secret ballot.

Decisions are normally made by what is known as a simple majority. A vast majority of legislative proposals and proposed resolutions require a simple majority of votes to pass. If that occurs, a quorum requires that more than half of the Members be physically present at the session. With 199 seats, the National Assembly has a quorum if 100 Members are in attendance. A proposal passes in Parliament if more than half of the Members physically present (and participating in the ballot) vote in favour. A Member casting a vote has three options to choose from: "Aye", "Nay" or "Abstain". The new provisions of the Rules of Procedure have expanded this rule to secret ballots as well.

The Fundamental Law, the Act on the National Assembly and the Rules of Procedure may occasionally define a majority required to carry a motion that diverges from the general rule. A higher percentage of votes may be required to adopt proposed legislation, to fill certain offices or to decide on procedures set down in individual provisions set forth in the Rules of Procedure. This higher percentage requirement is known as a qualified majority.

The requirement of a qualified majority derives from the need for guarantees. For instance, the requirement of a two-thirds majority of all the Members to adopt and amend the Fundamental Law proceeds from the need to maintain a stable constitution. Drawing on the historical traditions of Hungarian law, the Fundamental Law provides the requirement to enact cardinal laws. To adopt a cardinal act, at least two-thirds of the Members in attendance must vote in favour. Likewise, the election of public officers normally requires a qualified majority or two-thirds of the votes of all the Members.

To safeguard the rights of the parliamentary minority (the opposition), a provision of the Rules of Procedure requires a majority of four-fifths of the Members in attendance to authorise any departure from the Rules of Procedure. It also requires a two-thirds majority to expedite a debate of proposed legislation with an urgent procedure.

As seen from the foregoing, the concept of a qualified majority is defined by legislators in two ways: either in proportion to the total number of elected Members (e.g. expressed using the phrase "two-thirds of the votes of the Members") or by stipulating a percentage of the Members in attendance.

Parliamentary decisions requiring a qualified majority under the Fundamental Law, other Acts and the Rules of Procedure

The adoption of the following Acts requires two-thirds of the votes of the Members

Adopting or amending the Fundamental Law (Article S)(2) of the Fundamental Law).

The following decisions require two-thirds of the votes of all the Members

In order to participate in the European Union as a Member State and on the basis of an international treaty, Hungary may, as far as the rights and obligations set out in the founding treaties allow and demand, exercise some of its competences deriving from the Fundamental Law jointly with other Member States through the institutions of the European Union. The authorisation to recognise the binding force of an international treaty referred to in this provision requires the votes of two-thirds of all the Members (Article E)(2) and (4) of the Fundamental Law).

Ordering a sitting in camera (Article 5(1) of the Fundamental Law).

During the election of the President of the Republic, the person who receives a two-thirds majority of the votes of all the Members in the first round of voting shall be elected President of the Republic (Article 11(3) of the Fundamental Law).

Instituting a proceeding for the removal of the President of the Republic from office (Article 13(3) of the Fundamental Law).

The National Assembly shall elect fifteen members of the Constitutional Court for a term of twelve years (Article 24(4) of the Fundamental Law).

The National Assembly elects a member of the Constitutional Court to serve as President during his term of office as a constitutional judge (Article 24(4) of the Fundamental Law).

The National Assembly elects the President of the Curia from the ranks of the judiciary for nine years at the proposal of the President of the Republic (Article 26(3) of the Fundamental Law).

The National Assembly elects the President of the National Office for the Judiciary (NOJ) for a term of nine years from among members of the judiciary who have been appointed for an indefinite term and with at least five years of judicial service (Act CLXI of 2011 on the Organisation and Administration of the Courts, Sec. 66).

The National Assembly decides whether to end the term of the President of the NOJ (with a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office) based on two-thirds of the votes of the Members (Act CLXI of 2011 on the Organisation and Administration of the Courts, Sec. 70(2)).

The National Assembly decides whether to end the term of the President of the Curia (with a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office) based on two-thirds of the votes of the Members (Act CLXI of 2011 on the Organisation and Administration of the Courts, Sec. 115(2)).

Electing the Prosecutor General for a term of nine years (Article 29(4) of the Fundamental Law).

Electing the Parliamentary Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners for Fundamental Rights for a term of six years (Article 30(3) of the Fundamental Law).

Electing the President of the State Audit Office for a term of twelve years (Article 43(2) of the Fundamental Law).

With regard to the term of the President of the State Audit Office, a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office requires a decision based on two-thirds of the votes of the Members (Act LXVI of 2011 on the State Audit Office, Sec. 11(3)–(5)).

Suspending the immunity of the President of the State Audit Office (Act LXVI of 2011 on the State Audit Office, Sec. 10(2)).

Declaring a state of war or announcing a conclusion of peace or a special legal order (Article 48(1)–(2) of the Fundamental Law).

As soon as the National Assembly is no longer prevented from acting, it reviews at its first sitting whether the declaration of a state of war, state of national crisis or state of emergency was justified and decides on the legality of the measures taken (Article 48(6) of the Fundamental Law).

Declaration, promulgation and extension by the National Assembly of a state of preventive defence (special legal order) for a fixed period of time in the event of a threat of external armed attack or in order to fulfil obligations arising from an alliance (Article 51(2) of the Fundamental Law).

The following decisions require four-fifths of the votes of the Members in attendance

Deviating from the provisions of the Rules of Procedure (Sec. 65(1) of the Resolution).

The adoption of the following acts requires two-thirds of the votes of the Members in attendance

Adopting or amending a cardinal act (Article T)(4) of the Fundamental Law).

Amending resolutions on certain provisions of the Rules of Procedure (Article 5(7) of the Fundamental Law).

The following decisions require two-thirds of the votes of the Members in attendance

The National Assembly shall decide by a two-thirds majority of the votes of the Members present whether the conditions necessary for the election of a Member no longer obtain, whether a conflict of interest must be declared or whether a Member has failed to participate in the work of the National Assembly for a year (Article 4(4) of the Fundamental Law).

Deciding whether circumstances prevent the President of the Republic from fulfilling his or her presidential duties for over ninety days, whether the conditions required for electing the President do not obtain and whether to declare a conflict of interest (Article 12(4) of the Fundamental Law).

Deciding whether the conditions necessary for the election of the Prime Minister do not obtain and whether to declare a conflict of interest (Article 20(4) of the Fundamental Law).

Deciding on the deployment of the Hungarian Defence Forces abroad or within Hungary, on the posting of the Hungarian Defence Forces abroad, on the deployment of foreign armed forces within Hungary or departing from the territory of Hungary, or on the posting of foreign armed forces within Hungary (Article 47(2) of the Fundamental Law), except in the event that an Act delegates the power to decide to the Government (Article 47(3) of the Fundamental Law).

Suspending the immunity of a Member (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Making statements on behalf of the National Assembly on issues of a political nature (Sec. 82(2) of the Resolution).

Electing the President (who shall thus act as President of the Authority) and four members of the Media Council (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Deciding on a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office with regard to the President or a member of the Media Council, provided that the meeting of the Media Council fails to reach a decision by consensus (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Approving and amending the deed of foundation of the Public Service Foundation (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Electing the members of the Public Service Foundation (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Deciding on a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office with regard to the President or a member of the Board of Governors, provided that the full meeting of the Board of Governors of the Public Service Foundation fails to reach a decision by consensus (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Suspending the immunity of the President of the Curia or of the NOJ (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Suspending the immunity of the Prosecutor General (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Suspending the immunity of the Parliamentary Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Electing five members of the Independent Police Complaints Board (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Establishing the termination of the mandate of a member of the Independent Police Complaints Board (in the event of a conflict of interest, dismissal or removal from office) (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

Establishing a conflict of interest in respect of a member of the Independent Police Complaints Board (Sec. 61/A(1) of the Act).

The Rules of Procedure may stipulate that certain decisions be adopted by a qualified majority (Article 5(6) of the Fundamental Law).

The same majority is required for an urgent debate of proposals adopted by a qualified majority (Sec. 60(7) of the Resolution).

The following decisions require a simple majority of the votes of all the Members

Passing parliamentary resolutions unless the Fundamental Law provides otherwise (Article 5(6) of the Fundamental Law).

If the first round of voting to elect the President of the Republic is inconclusive, a second round shall be held. The candidate elected in the second round of voting with the highest number of valid votes shall be named President of the Republic – regardless of the number of those participating in the vote. Should the second round of voting also be inconclusive, a new vote shall be held on the basis of new nominations (Article 11(4) of the Fundamental Law).

Acting upon a motion submitted by the President of the Republic, the Government or any Member, the National Assembly decides whether or not the President of the Republic is temporarily prevented from fulfilling his or her duties (Article 14(2) of the Fundamental Law).

Electing the Prime Minister (Article 16(4) of the Fundamental Law).

If the National Assembly supports a motion of no confidence to vote the Prime Minister out of office, it thereby expresses its lack of confidence in the Prime Minister and simultaneously elects the person nominated for the office of Prime Minister in the motion of no confidence (Article 21(2) of the Fundamental Law).

The National Assembly expresses its lack of confidence in the Prime Minister if in a vote of confidence proposed by the Prime Minister a simple majority of all the Members fails to support the Prime Minister's motion (Article 21(3) of the Fundamental Law).

Electing members of the Monetary Policy Council and the Chairman and three additional members of the Supervisory Board of the National Bank of Hungary (Act CXXXIX of 2013 on the National Bank of Hungary, Secs. 9(4) and 14(6)).

Dismissing a member of the Monetary Policy Council elected by the National Assembly and recalling members of the Supervisory Board (Act CXXXIX of 2013 on the National Bank of Hungary, Sec. 9(11)).

Deciding on a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office with regard to the Presidents of the NOJ and the Curia (Act CLXI of 2011 on the Organisation and Administration of the Courts, Secs. 71–74).

When the term for the Parliamentary Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights ends and the conditions required for election no longer obtain, the National Assembly shall decide on the termination if it is tied to a declaration of a conflict of interest, a dismissal or a removal from office (Act CXI of 2011 on the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Sec. 16(2)–(6)).

Other decisions

Valid nominations of a candidate for the office of the President of the Republic require a written recommendation of at least one-fifth of the Members (Article 11(2) of the Fundamental Law).

If the President of the Republic wilfully violates the Fundamental Law or contravenes any Act in connection with the exercise of his or her presidential functions or commits a wilful criminal offence, a motion may be passed by one-fifth of all the Members to have the President removed from office (Article 13(2) of the Fundamental Law).

Reviewing the conformity of statutes with the Fundamental Law at the initiative of a quarter of all the Members (Article 24(2)e) of the Fundamental Law).

Adopting a parliamentary resolution on the principles of a proposed act requires the same majority as the act itself (Sec. 59(2) of the Resolution).

 

The Act: Act XXXVI of 2012 on the National Assembly

The Resolution: Parliamentary Resolution 10/2014 (24 January 2014) on Certain Provisions of the Rules of Procedure