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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main executive and legislative bodies


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.2Main executive and legislative bodies

Last update: 27 November 2023

The system of state

In Hungary, the present structure of the state and the system of public administration institutions were established following the democratic transition in 1989-90, and apart from minor rectifications, modifications and modernisation it did not fundamentally change until 2010. Thereafter, governments with a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly made significant changes.

The National Assembly (Parliament)

The electoral system used in Hungary is regulated by the Fundamental Law, the Act on Electoral Procedure, and the Act on the Election of Members of Parliament.

The Parliament consists of 199 members from the elections in 2014, before there were 386 seats. Pursuant to the new rules, the electoral system is one round, and the efficiency threshold was annulled, only the candidates receiving the most valid votes obtain a mandate, irrespective of the number of the actual voters. There are 106 individual constituencies (earlier there were 176). Fragmented votes are only produced in the individual constituencies, and these are added to the number of the votes in the party list. At the same time, the winning party is entitled to receive fragmented votes for the candidate winning mandate in the individual constituency, whose amount is conforming to the difference in the number of votes for the candidates in the first and second places. 93 mandates are allocated from the national list. A mandate may be received for the result achieved in the list but only if it exceeds the 5% threshold.

Hungarian minorities abroad received the right to vote, but Hungarian citizens who reside outside Hungary may only vote for party lists. The national minorities are provided with the possibility to obtain a mandate in an easier manner, and in case they fail to win a mandate in spite of the above, they may send a national minority advocate to the Parliament.

The National Assembly elects the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the members and the president of the Constitutional Court,  the President of the National Office for the Judiciary, the Commissioners for Fundamental Rights , the President of the Curia of Hungary, the President of the State Audit Office of Hungary and the General Prosecutor.

The President of the Republic

The President of the Republic of Hungary is elected by a secret ballot for five years by a two-third majority of the Parliament. Hungarian citizens with the right to vote above the age of 35 are eligible for the presidency. The first President of the Republic of Hungary was Árpád Göncz, elected in 1990 and re-elected in 1995. In 2000 the Parliament elected Ferenc Mádl, and in 2005 László Sólyom was elected as President. In 2010 Pál Schmitt followed, but resigned in 2012. He was succeeded by János Áder, who was re-elected in 2017. In 2022 the National Assembly elected Katalin Éva Novák, who became the first female President of the Republic in the history of Hungary.

The President’s powers relate to several functions. The Parliament may be adjourned and dissolved by the President of the Republic. He/she ratifies law and ensures its promulgation if he/she disagrees with a law, he/she has a one-time veto power over it before ratifying. The President announces general parliamentary elections. In addition, he/she may initiate various measures: the Prime Minister is elected by the Members of Parliament based on the recommendation made by the President and also the President gives mandate to form government. He/she appoints, among others, the ministers, secretaries of state (state ministers), army generals and professional judges. He/she exercises the right to grant presidential pardon for individuals. The President of the Republic is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and he has certain rights concerning foreign affairs as well.

The Government

Executive power – government functions and the highest-level control of public administration – is exercised by the government, in which the Prime Minister plays a dominant role. The Parliament holds the vote on the election of the Prime Minister and on the adoption of the Government's programme at the same time. The mandate of the head of government is also strengthened by the fact that he/she can only be replaced after that the Parliament passes a motion of no-confidence. The Government is formed upon appointment of the Ministers, who take their oaths at the same time. The establishment of ministries is the prerogative of the National Assembly; their list is set out in law.

The Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of Hungary (CC) is a body of fifteen members elected for the period of 12 years by two-thirds majority of the Members of the Parliament. The President of the Constitutional Court is elected from the members of the Court for a period ending at the expiration of his term of office as a Constitutional Court Judge. The members of the Constitutional Court may not be party members and may not pursue political activity. The members of the Constitutional Court may not be re-elected. Persons who were members of the government or leading officials of a party or held political or professional position at senior level in the four years preceding the day of election may not be members of the Constitutional Court.

The amendment to the Act on the Constitutional Court that entered into force on 1 January 2012 re-defines the competence of the CC in accordance with the Fundamental Law. The most significant change is that the CC may, on the grounds of constitutional complaint, examine the conformity of judicial decisions with the Fundamental Law as well as with the law applied to each case. It also falls under the competence of the CC to start a process (following a judicial initiative) to determine the constitutionality of the law applicable to the specific case. The new Fundamental Law retains the possibility of posterior norm control to the government, to one-quarter of the Members of the Parliament and to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, i.e. the possibility open to everybody to turn to the Constitutional Court without legal interest is terminated.

The Constitutional Court may not examine and annul laws on the budget, taxes, customs and charges (as long as government debt exceeds half of total gross domestic product) only if these violate the right to life and human dignity, the right to the protection of personal data, the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, or the rights related to the Hungarian nationality.

The Judiciary Organisation

The function of the judiciary system is to serve justice, the main forms of which are criminal justice, civil justice and controlling the legality of administrative decisions.

Jurisdiction may be exercised by the following courts:

  • the Curia of Hungary (Supreme Court)
  • Regional Courts of Appeal
  • General Courts
  • District and Municipal Courts (hereinafter jointly referred to as District Courts), and

The President of the National Office for the Judiciary (NOJ), a body independent from legislative and executive powers, fulfils the duty of central administration in the organisational structure of the courts. The President of NOJ is elected to the recommendation of the President of the Republic, for a period of 9 years, from among the judges who have been in service for at least 5 years, by two-thirds majority of the Members of the Parliament. The chief administrative and the chief technical executive posts are separated: now a different person is the President of the NOJ and the President of the Curia of Hungary. The President of NOJ performs his/her functions under strict control, supervised by the National Council of Justice (NCJ) consisting only of judges.

The President of NOJ performs the central administration of courts, undertakes the competences relating to their budget, and supervises the administration activities of the presidents of regional courts of appeal and general courts. The President appoints the chief court staff and makes proposals to appoint judges; also, in case a court is under heavy workload, the President may, at the court’s request or at the proposal of the Prosecutor General, designate another court to ensure that the cases are assessed within reasonable time.

As of 1 April 2020, eight courts (Budapest-Capital Regional Court, Budapest Environs Regional Court, Debrecen Regional Court, Győr Regional Court, Miskolc Regional Court, Pécs Regional Court, Szeged Regional Court and Veszprém Regional Court) are acting in administrative lawsuits at first instance.

The Budapest-Capital Regional Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases that previously fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Budapest-Capital Administrative and Labour Court (e.g. visa and statelessness matters). In administrative court cases, the Curia of Hungary (Supreme Court) acts in appeal or review proceedings at second instance. The Supreme Court may exceptionally act as a first and exclusive forum, e.g. in assembly matters.

In labour court cases, the competent regional court acts at first instance, the competent regional court of appeal acts in appellate proceedings and the Curia acts in review proceedings. The employer (as an applicant) can only bring a lawsuit in the regional court of the employee’s domicile or place of residence, and there is no place for a jurisdiction clause in labour court cases.

In administrative court cases, the regional courts of appeal with an administrative college act in procedures at second instance belonging to the regional courts, and the Curia acts in cases belonging to the regional courts of appeal. The Curia also acts in Review procedures.

Public Prosecutor’s Office

The Prosecutor General is elected to the recommendation of the President of the Republic by two-thirds majority of the Members of the Parliament. According to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, his/her mandate is for 9 years, parliamentary questions can be addressed to him/her.


The general rules for the election of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights are included in the Fundamental Law, and based on the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and its Deputies are elected for six years by the two-thirds of the Members of the Parliament.

Public administration, local governments

Hungary has a two-tier local government system; the Act on Local Governments of Hungary, as well as the Fundamental Law distinguishes a municipal and a regional level. Municipal local governments and regional local governments are jointly referred to as local governments.

The country is divided into 19 counties, 7 statistical regions and Budapest, the capital. County level governments are also elected locally and directly but they have extremely restricted powers and budget. Settlements have an opportunity to establish regional co-operation on voluntary and multi-purposive basis. These micro-regional associations provide opportunity for a more efficient organisation of the fulfilment of municipal tasks, and a customised application of the instruments of the national regional development policy to solve social and economic problems specific to the micro region.

The general rights of local governments, in compliance with the Fundamental Law, are detailed in the Act on Local Governments of Hungary. The new regulation required the clarification of the relation, the tasks and competences between the state and the local governments. Local governments still have to fulfil the following tasks among others: pre-primary education, basic health care, settlement development, children well-being and social services, however, except for pre-primary education, the tasks of general education and institutional health care were removed from the tasks of local governments. In addition to the above, several public administration tasks were transferred to the Government Offices, and certain tasks of disaster management are also fulfilled by the deconcentrated bodies of the state.    

With the new system of the public and municipal tasks, a new task funding system was also established, with the clear aim of providing functioning local government services in all settlements of Hungary. In the sense of the above, a budget cannot be accepted with a deficit. In order to eliminate deficits, between 2012 and 2014, the Government executed a local government consolidation in each settlement with a population below 5,000 people., and in 2014 settled the remaining debts of all settlements. The system of commitment, borrowing and bond issuance has been tightened. Based on the new municipal office structure, those settlements whose population is below 2,000 people, may not operate an independent local government.

Education administration

Horizontally, administrative responsibilities are shared within ministries; mainly between two ministries directly responsible for education and training (namely the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Culture and Innovation ) and other ministries. Vertically, administrative control is shared at central (national), regional (regions, counties), local (settlements) and institutional levels. Sectoral administration at national level is mainly implemented through a comprehensive general framework of regulations.

In terms of general education, the authority of the Ministry of Interior is restricted to general administrative and regulatory responsibilities. These are the following: setting the criteria and conditions for compulsory education and providing a framework of operation for public education institutions and the examinations at the end of upper secondary education. In 2018, in accordance with the relevant legal regulations, the sectoral administration of vocational education and training as well as adult training was undertaken by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, which was succeeded by the Ministry of Culture and Innovation in 2022.

The supervision of higher education was provided by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, from 2022 the Ministry of Culture and Innovation.

According to the data of the Central Statistical Office (KSH), Hungary spent 3.9% of the GDP on education expenditure in 2019.

In 2018, the central budget spent 81 billion HUF more on education than in the previous years, in 2019, the sector could expect a surplus of 15 billion HUF compared to 2018. The growth continued, in 2020, compared to the previous year, the government spent another 60 billion HUF more on education .

In 2019, the distribution of the highest educational attainment of the population aged between 15-74 was as follows: 1.38%c ompleted less than the required minimum for graduating primary education; 19.45% completed primary education; 24.52% completed vocational school; 32.74% completed the upper-secondary studies with a successful upper-secondary school leaving exam, and 21.8% the share of participants in tertiary education. In 2020, the distribution of the highest educational attainment of the population aged between 15-74 was as follows: 1.32% completed less than the required minimum for graduating primary education; 18.8% completed primary education; 24.10% completed vocational school; 38.17% completed the upper-secondary studies with a successful upper-secondary school leaving exam, and 23.11% the share of participants in tertiary education.

The level of education of women has increased more than it has for men over the past decade. However, women are still in majority among the low-educated. In 2016 30% of men and 36% of women had a completed primary education. In 2016, 31% of men and 35% of women had the upper secondary grammar school leaving exam as the highest education level. First time that the proportion of women with a upper secondary school leaving exam was higher than the proportion of men was in 1980. In 2016, more than half of the graduates in higher education (56%) were women. The same trend continued in 2019 and 2020.

Hungary’s commitment to the EU 2020 Strategy was to increase the proportion of graduates between age 25 and 34 to 34% by 2020. In 2015, 34.3% of the population had a degree, this rate fell to 32.1% in 2017, increased to 33.7% in 2018, then fell to 33.4% in 2019 and to 31% in 2020.