Helsinki Committee: Chief judge unlawfully appointed several judges

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee: President of Hungary’s supreme court unlawfully appointed judges

András Zs. Varga, the President of Hungary’s supreme court (Kúria), unlawfully appointed several judges to the bench in 2021 - Hungarian Helsinki Committee reports.

Documents obtained by the Helsinki Committee show that Varga proceeded unlawfully on several judicial applications. In 5 cases out of the 11 vacancies announced in 2021, he did not initiate the appointment of the first-ranked judge, nor did he reach out to the National Judicial Council for approval to deviate from the ranking. On one occasion, he declared the fourth-ranked applicant the winner, which is not allowed under the law even with the National Judicial Council’s consent.

András Zs Varga took charge of the Kúria In 2021 even though he had no prior judicial experience and the opposition from some judges. His election required changes to several laws by Viktor Orban's government. Helsinki Committee's 2020 analysis warned, that the new chief judge could become a transmission belt for executive power in Hungary. 

Thousands march in Budapest in solidarity with teachers

Thousands protested in Budapest in solidarity with Hungarian teachers over the weekend. Teachers in the Central European country are facing uncertain times because of low wages and poor working conditions as inflation reaches 14 percent. As the school year started, many teachers did not begin classes, and their union announced a nationwide strike.

Besides the ca. $500 salary, Hungary has been struggling with a teacher shortage with an estimated 16 000 vacant positions across the country. 

Hungary to set up an anti-corruption authority to unlock EU funds

Viktor Orban's government is reported to create an anti-corruption body to oversee the spending of EU funds. The new authority is a result of year-long battles with Brussels over human rights and democratic standards.

Hungary is facing financial penalties over rule of law concerns, and the new body is said to prevent and resolve corruption and other conflicts of interest issues to unlock the funds.

Half of the group will be government delegates, and the other half will be from non-government organizations. The move comes as pressure increases on the Fidesz-led government due to high inflation and the weakening of the Hungarian forint.

Hungary's inflation keeps rising, reaching 15,6 percent

Hungary's inflation rose to an annual 15, 6 in August, experts are expecting further surge. Even before next month’s expected to jump in energy bills, Hungarians were faced with a surge of 30.9% in food prices, a rise of 14.8% in prices of consumer durables, and a 7.7% jump in services prices versus the year-earlier period. The government scrapped a cap on utility costs for higher-usage households earlier this year - Reuters reports.  The forint, Hungary's currency fell 0.6% against the Euro.

Analysts say that the maintenance of price caps will determine when inflation will peak, and how much above 20 percent it will rise. Péter Virovácz, an expert at ING told Portfolio that he predicts fuel prices to return to market levels in three months, meaning that inflation is expected to peak in December at around 22 percent.

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