Referendum on Sunday shopping ban given green light by Hungary's top court

By bne IntelliNews April 6, 2016

The opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) can start collecting signatures calling for a referendum on revocation of the law forcing shops to close on Sundays, the Curia, Hungary's supreme court, ruled on April 6.

The law, which restricts retailers with over 200 sqm of retail space from opening on Sunday was passed by the ruling Fidesz party in December 2014. It is one of two issues that provokes significant anger against the government, the other being problems with the centralized education system. Protests centred on the education system have hurt Fidesz support in recent months, although the party still maintains an overwhelming lead.

According to local pollster Ipsos, last December 68% of Hungarians oppose the Sunday shopping ban. Little wonder then that the government has reportedly tried to prevent a referendum.

The National Election Committee (NEC) has repeatedly rejected MSZP’s attempts to submit a referendum question. Former MSZP MP Istvan Nyako was blocked by several unnamed heavy-set men when he tried to submit the question in February. As he was involved in a tussle, another application on the Sunday shopping ban was submitted by the wife of a Fidesz mayor.

The NEC cannot accept two referendum questions on the same issue at the same time, meaning MSZP would be forced to wait for the NEC to rule on the legality of the alternative question. However, the supreme court has now ruled that Nyako was blocked from submitting his application illegally, and that it should therefore be accepted.

The Sunday shopping ban has been staunchly defended by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, stating that it protects the Sabbath as a Christian day of rest. Critics say that the bill is one of the government measures that aimed at hurting the country's large supermarket chains, which are mostly foreign-owned, to the advantage of smaller local chains, reputedly owned by figures close to Fidesz.

MSZP now needs to collect 200,000 signatures to hold a referendum. The party will also collect signatures in support of votes on ending the heavily-criticized privatization of state owned lands and the introduction of a wage ceiling of HUF2mn for employees of state-owned companies. 

Related Articles

Poland isolated again as it threatens to block EU declaration

Poland will not sign the Rome Declaration if its demands for moulding the EU’s future are not reflected in the document, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo threatened on March 23. The statement could ... more

Hungarian referendum on nuclear deal with Russia rejected

The expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant will be Hungary's “biggest political error of the 21st century” claimed Bernadett Szel, leader of the small opposition party LMP, on March 22, as she ... more

Hungary finally joins the negative yield club

Hungary finally joined the negative yield club on March 21 as Government Debt Management Agency AKK  accepted a bid of -0.01% at an auction of 3-month T-bills. Hungarian yields have been on ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or purchase 12 months full website access including the bne Magazine for just $119/year.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss