Péter Szalay is a lawyer who has worked in an attorney-client relationship with the top brass of the Fidesz leadership for over ten years. This relationship might cause some eyebrows to be raised about Szalay's suitability for the post.
Although Szalay published a few short articles on the constitution, he is first and foremost a practicing lawyer and as such it is almost impossible to gain an accurate picture of his legal philosophy. There is, for example, the issue of the freedom of speech. He represented Viktor Orbán in a case in which Orbán sued former minister of finance János Veres who told a reporter that if it depended on Viktor Orbán he would steal the entire IMF loan Hungary just received. Orbán lost. Szalay also represented the Fidesz politicians who dismantled the barrier on Kossuth tér. In this instance Szalay won the case. However, from the two cases we can't draw any conclusion about Szalay's views on the freedom of speech because in the first instance he argued on the basis of a very narrow definition while in the second instance he defined freedom of speech so broadly that it would also include removing legally erected barriers.
As far as his writings are concerned, in 2005 in Élet és Irodalom he wrote in defense of the 1989 Constitution against a legal scholar who was advocating the creation of a new one. In this article he argued that Hungary's "constitutional problems wouldn't be solved by coming up 'quickly' with a new constitution…. Most likely no new constitution will be born until there is societal demand for one because only in such a case will there be the desired consensus within parliament…. In the near future there is not much hope for the birth of a new constitution–and perhaps it is best this way."
It seems that in order to serve on the Constitutional Court Szalay no longer feels the way he did in 2005.
Egon Dienes–Oehm is the candidate of the Christian Democrats. The party nominated him earlier when parliament elected István Stumpf and Mihály Bihari. Then the Christian Democrats' faithful partner, Fidesz, refused to oblige. Now they agreed to consider him but the gesture is rather insignificant. Dienes–Oehm is almost 67 years old and thus in three years he will have to retire.
Dienes-Oehm spent more than ten years in public administration and since 1997 he has also been teaching at the Catholic University. He has published profusely–mostly on European integration, institutions of the European Union, and European commercial law. He has not published anything on constitutional law. Therefore we cannot even guess his philosophy on constitutional matters.
Because of his knowledge of international law one could ask him about the slight change of wording in the passage that deals with not being able to hold referendums on "valid international obligations" in the current constitution and the absence of the adjective "valid" in the new one. Could it be that in the future no referendum can be held even on the confirmation of international agreements? For example, in the case of Hungary's adherence to NATO. Another possible question is whether the interpretation of the freedom of speech of the Hungarian Constitutional Court is in agreement with Hungary's international obligations. And finally it would be interesting to know what he thinks about the passage in the preamble about the historical constitution and how it might affect the interpretation of basic rights.
I am leaving the most outrageous nominee, István Balsai, for another day. Stay tuned.