Eőtvös Károly Institute

The Eötvös Károly Institute strives to improve and strengthen the citizens political culture based on the spirit of solidarity.



The Eötvös Károly Institute was created in January 2003 by the Soros Foundation in order to establish a novel, unconventional institutional framework for shaping democratic public affairs in Hungary. Acting hand in hand with other entities, including advocacy groups, watchdog organizations, and other institutions, the Eötvös Károly Institute wishes to contribute to raising professional and general public awareness and to shaping the political agenda in issues with an impact on the quality of relations between citizens and public power. The Institute is deeply committed to the liberal interpretation of constitutionality, constitutional democracy, and individual rights, and labors to support initiatives instrumental in bringing about a civil political culture inspired by the spirit of solidarity. Thus the Institute is ready to join forces with any organization or individual working to improve the destiny of a democratic Republic of Hungary founded on the principle of equality, no matter where they place the emphasis and what worldview guides them in their pursuit. With its limited means and resources, the Eötvös Károly Institute is dedicated to continuing and bolstering the tradition of 19th-century Hungarian liberalism, 20th-century progressive democratic thought, and the legislative process that culminated in the creation of the Constitution of the Third Republic. We strive to uphold the spirit of Károly Eötvös, the statesman from whom we have borrowed the name for our Institute, by combining theoretical arguments on behalf of liberal democracy with practical political action.

The Eötvös Károly Institute pursues three different types of activities, and therefore addresses three different types of audiences. Through issuing positions on momentous political issues, hosting conferences, and authoring various publications and announcements, we seek to directly reach the general public, the entirety of the democratic political community. Thereby we wish to foster a higher level of legal awareness among the echelons of government and society at large, optimally even swaying the practitioners of public power in the decisions they make.

Secondly, we turn to political decision makers indirectly by drafting specific policy proposals, concepts, and background studies, with a view to representing a constitutional, liberal perspective in regulatory issues and marshaling arguments for action plans conceived in a kindred spirit.

Thirdly, the Institute engages in conducting long-term surveys and studies investigating the condition of certain institutions of the democratic republic, such as the courts, the municipalities, and the law enforcement agencies, and of certain public services, including education, health care, culture support etc. The intended audience of these investigations consists of professionals. By broadening the horizons of professional and political debate on the above mentioned institutions and services, we hope to bring reliable information and a sound perspective to public decisions to be made further down the line.

Our aim is to win public recognition for the Eötvös Károly Institute in Hungary as an independent voice, authenticated by its dedication to the cause of democracy and the consistently high standards of its positions, that will serve as a landmark point of orientation for those scrutinizing the state of the Republic. Another aspiration of ours is that the Eötvös Károly Institute be regarded as a potential partner by any existing and future government, regardless of world view and basic stance–not because we deliver the expected answers, but because our positions carry weight. We will not consider our labors fruitful unless we can say with confidence that our interventions have resulted in a demonstrable improvement of the relations between public power and the citizens.

The founder president and the current chairman of the Institute is László Majtényi, lawyer. His main areas of specialization include constitutional law, freedom of information and privacy, and the practice of ombudspersons. He is head of the Department of Information and Media Law at the University of Miskolc, Faculty of Law. He holds the doctorate of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. From 2008 to 2009, he was chairman of the National Radio and Television Authority, during which period he suspended his activities at the Institute. Between 1995 and 2001 he served as the first ombudsman for freedom of information and privacy of the Republic of Hungary, and from 1990 to 1995 he served as a legal counsel for the Constitutional Court. Between 1975 and 1990 he taught at various universities and practiced law. He is the author of several books, chapters and articled published in Hungary and internationally.

The Staff

Dániel G. Szabó is a lawyer, who worked as a journalist at Index.hu before joining EKINT. He is a founder of an investigative journalism blog specialized in corruption cases at universities and student unions (Átlátszó Oktatás). He is a junior researcher at the Institute. He is presently studying at CEU.

Nóra Köves is a human rights expert, editor of Fundamentum and an activist. Working as an expert for several national and international NGO in Hungary and abroad (America, France, Kosovo, Turkey) she has gained a special knowledge in the field of human and fundamental rights protection. She is a project manager (also responsible for fundraising) and a human rights expert for the Eötvös Károly Institute.

Zoltán Miklósi currently teaches political philosophy at the Department of Political Science of the Central European University. Having pursued graduate studies at ELTE and the New School University of New York, he obtained his doctorate in philosophy at ELTE in 2005. Working as an expert for Freedom House from 2000 to 2002, he served as one of the main authors of the 2001 and 2002 country reports on Hungary. He is research coordinator for the Eötvös Károly Institute.

Szonja Navratil is a lawyer and sociologist. She is an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology of Law at ELTE University. Her main area of specialization is the sociological study of law enforcement and legal professions.She obtained her PhD degree based on a thesis on hungarian legal professions. Prior to joining the Institute she practiced as a lawyer in litigation. She is a researcher at the Institute.

Emese Pásztor is a lawyer, PhD Student at the Constitutional Law Department of ELTE University. She is specialized in the protection of privacy and the boundaries of state intervention into the private sphere of citizens. Previously she worked in the field of law enforcement. She is a junior researcher at the Institute.

Bernadette Somody is a constitutional lawyer, a lecturer at the Constitutional Law Department of ELTE University. She is specialized in fundamental rights protection, obtained her PhD degree based on a thesis on ombudsman-institutions. She is the director of the Institute.

Erzsébet Szöllősi is a geneticist by profession. Earlier, she conducted laboratory research and was active in book publishing. She also worked in the office of the ombudsman for privacy and freedom of information. She is bureau chief at the Eötvös Károly Institute.

Virág Zsugyó is a lawyer, PhD Student at the Géza Marton Doctoral School of Legal Studies at the University of Debrecen. She is specialized in judicial review of constitutional amendments. She is a junior researcher at the Institute.