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Parliament votes down proposal to impeach president

Lawmakers rejected a proposal in a secret ballot on Monday to start proceedings to remove President Tamas Sulyok from office.

In a debate on the draft resolution submitted by the opposition Democratic Coalition, Christian Democrat MP Imre Vejkey, the head of parliament’s justice committee, said the committee recommended that parliament against initiating “the obviously baseless … and unworthy proceedings that only served campaign goals”.

He said the opposition parties that submitted the proposal had “put forward a deceitful opinion and came to an incorrect conclusion” regarding two matters.

Vejkey said such proceedings could only be initiated against a president who is found to have intentionally violated the constitution, broken a law or committed a crime. He added, however, that the justice committee had concluded that the allegations in the proposal “are not connected to Tamas Sulyok’s actions as president”. This, he said, ruled out “any basis for references to the intentional violation of the law”.

The lawmaker said the allegation that Sulyok had acted under a conflict of interest by taking his salary as head of the Constitutional Court was also unfounded, arguing that Sulyok suspended his activities as a lawyer during his time on the court and the cases he had worked on earlier were being taken care of by a deputy.

Vejkey noted that the complaint submitted by Klara Dobrev of the Democratic Coalition (DK) had been rejected by the regional investigative prosecutor’s office of Szeged.

DK lawmaker Laszlo Sebian-Petrovszki said the six opposition parties that had called for the proceedings against Sulyok believed there were documents proving that as a lawyer Sulyok had been involved in “illegally transferring Hungarian farmland to foreigners” in the early 2000s.

Sebian-Petrovszki said Sulyok had continued to be involved in such transactions even during his tenure as a constitutional judge. He said the “pocket contracts” used in the transactions had never been legal, and regardless of whether or not the statute of limitations for the case had expired, the president “shouldn’t commit intentional crimes in the present and shouldn’t have committed them in the past, either”.

In a secret ballot, lawmakers rejected the proposal to impeach the president with 41 votes in favour and 132 votes against.

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