Analysis Politics

EU wrong to ignore radical Hungary reforms

Across Europe parties of varying ideological backgrounds are calling into question the the unelected bodies of the European Court and Commission, Hungary is no exception

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Photo credit: President of the European Council
Photo credit: President of the European Council


Across Europe parties of varying ideological backgrounds are calling into question the the unelected bodies of the European Court and Commission. From Zizek to UKIP desires for reinstatements of national sovereignty are coming to challenge the bastions of Euro power in Strasbourg, Brussels and Frankfurt.

A new course is required, and by embracing a right-wing populist agenda Hungary has broken out of the European mould. Could this central European country, once praised for its successful transition to democracy, show us a new course? Or rather does Viktor Orban's regime represent a dagger pointed at the heart of Europe and everything European's believe?
Since 2010 Hungary has been governed at a national level by the Fidesz Party. A nominally "liberal" force, the party grew out of the organised resistance to the Hungarian Worker's Party when it crystalised in the late 1980s.
In the '90s Fidesz and Viktor Orban, its charismatic president and former student leader, were feted by neo-liberal western European politicians for driving through a economic reform program along the lines of the shock doctrine.

The social consequences of this saw Fidesz swept from power in 2002 to be replaced by the Labour Party. Moderate descendants of the Worker's Party, who expanded social programs and public investment. Losing support to the far-right Jobbick Party, in a climate of high unemployment and growing racism against minority groups such as the Jews and Roma, Fidesz re-branded itself in the late 2000s as a nationalistic and authoritarian force. Defeating a tired and scandal torn Labour Party in 2010, they took 70 per cent of the seats in Parliament, enough to amend the constitution at will.

The new government's first act was to declare a "national revolution" with notices to this effect placed in all government buildings. Furthering this, laws were passed granting the governing party significant powers over all areas of Hungarian life. Including appointments to the editorial boards of state owned media companies and powers to suppress publications.Support for Jobbick controlled local authorities attempts to terrorise and ghettoise Roma and a willingness to allow public displays of an anti-Semitic nature at Second World War Commemorations.

New constitutions seem to have secured Orban's position. The word "Republic" was removed from the official description of what the state is, and the ability of the Supreme Court to make rulings affecting legislation and governmental action was abolished. The constitutions also reduced Parliamentary Committee power and the ruling body of the National Bank is now seemingly appointed by those in poltical favour.

Shocking measures in 21st Century Europe. But measures which, despite Hungarian membership of the EU, have received only a semi-formal 'expression of concern' from the Council of Europe.

With countries inside and outside the EU coming under extraordinary pressure to implement EU mandated austerity programs, Europe's silence has been deafening. When it comes to weak EU institutions and democracy, its critics are right, Orban's changes to Hungary support them. Those who once cheered him through their silence still do.

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2 Comment

a. Posted on Thursday 22 Oct 2020

i wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that the eu should've condemned Fidesz by now.
(although not sure what 'shock doctrine' you're referring to during their first term. maybe youre getting confused with the 1995 austerity measures? these are usually credited with balancing the economy and leading to improved credit ratings towards 2000. also you misspelled Jobbik twice here)

Reply

TheReality Posted on Thursday 22 Oct 2020

"...calling into question the the unelected bodies of the European Court and Commission."

From your opening paragraph I thought I was in for a good read, how wrong I was. I thought finally there would be some discussion on the undemocratic nature of the EU and its persute for statehood without consulting the people of Europe.

"right-wing populist agenda", "once praised for its successful transition to democracy", "a dagger pointed at the heart of Europe and everything European's believe?"

Such disgusting retoric like this is exactly the sort of comments you would expect from the career politicians of the EU. "Populist" yes, thats what democracy is about... to then in next sentence to question the democratic nature of the country when people have voted exactly for this party is very wrong. I guess in your next sentence you have mistaken used Europe instead of the EU, which would be more fitting. Also who are you to say what Europeans believe in? Most Europeans don't want to give up their national soveirenty and this has been shown in many referendums, in fact the only reason the EU has got to where it is today is because of secrecy and lack of transparency. If more people knew the EU's ambition is to move towards statehood and was not just some free trade agreement etc. there would be riots on the street. The rise of the right is thanks to more people educating themselves, but of course this will bring some radicals along with it. The EU should not be condeming this as you say but rather the EU should be condemed itself and follow the path of Communism, which was another failed idea. People don't like being dictated to by foreign powers, whether that be the south being forced into austerity and a non-optimal currency like the euro, or the north, forced to bail out the south/failure of the euro, as well as accept mass immigration. The Euro is a failure and will never work and will collapse eventually, you can't merge completely different economies into the same currency with the same interest rates. If it was purely dictated by the market, it would have collapsed years ago, because its a political project (a single nations needs a single currency and single economic policy) the pain is being prolonged, and the crisis being used as an excuse for massive power grabs by the EU. The rise of the right is CAUSED by the EU.

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