The left-leaning Policy Agenda’s analysis of what to expect in the election campaign indicates that zero risk and the fewest possible mistakes would seem to herald success for the governing parties. Legislation is a hot spot in this respect but preliminary findings show that the cabinet’s output will be turned down in the remaining time before 6 April.
Examining the last months of the past four governmental and parliamentary terms it turns out that the Gordon Bajnai government functioned as if there were no elections, while legislation was rather neglected by the governments in all other terms. In 2010, altogether 248 acts, parliamentary decisions, government decrees or government decisions were passed.
Apparently, the present government intends to follow its own practice of 2002, when the elections were preceded by low legislative activity. The government’s work schedule and program of legislation until 6 April support this. The work schedule includes 49 legislative tasks up to the elections, which is much less than the 99 legislative assignments that the Bajnai government assumed in its last months. The fact that merely two bills have been tabled for debate in Parliament demonstrates an intention to diminish the possibility of mistakes in the field of legislation.
Country without Parliament
Right before the elections the lawmakers will have a break. The duration has yet to be announced but presumably Parliament will not have sessions after 11 February, considering the number of legislative tasks. This would mean a break of 54 days before the election. With this the record holder is not the present Parliament but the Horn government in 1998, when Parliament was last convened 55 days before the election.
Although there are not any essential bills included in the work schedule of the present government, two events might disturb the original plan of the cabinet to avoid scandals in legislation.
In this respect the reduction of overhead costs undoubtedly conveys a positive message, however the timing and the rate might provide grounds for attacks. This might be favourable for Jobbik, who will demand prompt overhead cost reductions due to their radical views, while the democratic wing of the opposition will probably be more restrained.
Ratification of the pact between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán by Parliament will serve grounds for considerable attacks. Parliament approved on 6 February the agreement with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation to build two nuclear reactors at Paks, amid opposition boycotts and a noisy LMP protest, ensuing the issue will stay alive until 6 April.
Government action has yet to be taken in two fields and these might affect the election result. One is the so-called act on the regulation of non-profit public utilities supply. However the statements made by the governing party suggest that this task will extend to the next parliamentary term.
The other unresolved legislative issue is the dilemma over foreign-currency loans. A solution has yet to be found, and the governing party politicians are apparently playing for time. For the time being, they expect the Supreme Court to provide guidance, but it is almost sure that even then they will not rush with legislation.