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Hungary is now a dictatorship

by IdiotSavant Wed Apr 1st, 2020 at 03:19:55 AM EST

Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:

Hungary's parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for spreading misinformation and gives no clear time limit to a state of emergency that allows the nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to rule by decree.

Parliament voted by 137 to 53 to pass the measures on Monday afternoon, with the two-thirds majority enjoyed by Orbán's Fidesz party enough to push them through in spite of opposition from other parties, which had demanded a time limit or sunset clause on the legislation.

The bill introduces jail terms of up to five years for intentionally spreading misinformation that hinders the government response to the pandemic, leading to fears that it could be used to censor or self-censor criticism of the government response.

No parliament, no elections, no oversight, and no criticism. There are obvious parallels with the Enabling Act of 1933 - except that that law had a sunset clause, and German MPs had to go through the charade of renewing it twice. There are no such limits on Hungary's dictatorship. Will the EU permit this? Unfortunately, its permitted everything else: the suppression of the opposition and the media, the attacks on judicial independence, the establishment of concentration camps for refugees. But if the EU will permit one of its members to become a dictatorship, then what is the point of it?

Hungary is turning into the biggest existential threat to the EU: there are no mechanisms to expel a EU member country, only Article 50 for those countries who want to leave (see: UK).

But Orban doesn't want to leave, quite the opposite: Hungary is one of the biggest net receivers of EU funds. Orban can run his own private dictatorship and can do it on the EU's dime.

Since coercion procedures such as Article 7 require unanimity in the Council and since the PiS in Poland (the other largest net receiver of EU funds) is pretty much on the same path as Fidesz in Hungary, Poland and Hungary are pretty much covering each other and the EU institutions are essentially powerless.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Apr 1st, 2020 at 06:59:35 PM EST
The one lever the EU have, if they have the balls to use it, is the current budget negotiations. Net contributors to the budget should refuse to agree any new disbursements to Hungary and Poland until such time as their laws are brought into full conformity with EU norms.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Apr 1st, 2020 at 07:15:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think this is legally possible (to single out specific countries) outside ad hoc procedures like Article 7.

Then again, it will soon become a matter of life and death for the EU. The most pressing danger to EU cohesion right now is the Covid-19 fallout, particularly the "coronabonds" clash.

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Apr 1st, 2020 at 08:27:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The budgetary process is basically horse trading between countries. Other countries can block the process ... No budget means no money for Hungary

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Apr 1st, 2020 at 08:50:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And his first move as dictator is to fuck over trans people:

His powers came into effect on Monday morning, and by the evening his deputy Zsolt Semjén had introduced a new bill which, if passed, will replace "gender" with "birth sex" in all legal documents issued in the country.

The effect of this is that Hungarian citizens will be unable to change their gender legally, a significant rollback of rights in the eastern European country.

Since data in official documents such as ID cards, driving licenses and passports are taken from the civil registry, the change would affect these as well.

Again, the EU needs to do something about this.

by IdiotSavant on Wed Apr 1st, 2020 at 11:56:15 PM EST
What happened with the article 7 proceedings the EU parliament decide to launch in 2018?

Did it die in the Council? Or is it merely resting?

by fjallstrom on Mon Apr 6th, 2020 at 09:57:34 AM EST
As I wrote at the time, not much has happened.

One of the main limitations of Article 7, if I understand correctly, is the requirement for unanimity in the Council (minus the accused country). This means that Poland can block Article 7 proceedings against Hungary and vice versa.

From the Politico.eu article I quoted back then:

"Article 7 is meant to re-establish the conditions for a dialogue," said a senior official from a Western European country. "The goal is not sanctions, the goal is to bring them back to practices that are tolerable."

The leaders of all EU governments (except Hungary) would need to vote in favor of a "serious and persistent breach" in order for the process to reach the next stage. That's a very high bar. Hungary has already said it would block any such step against Poland and it seems very likely that Warsaw would return the favor. Other EU governments that have come under fire for their democratic and human rights standards would also be very wary of setting a precedent that could be dangerous for them.

The final stage of the Article 7 process, a vote to suspend a country's voting rights, requires only a qualified majority (55 percent of EU countries, comprising at least 65 percent of the EU's population -- all minus the accused country, of course). But to get to this point, the Council would have to have agreed unanimously at the previous stage.

But let's not forget that the EPP, of which Fidesz is still a member, albeit a suspended one, has been reluctant to formally expel Orban.
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Apr 6th, 2020 at 05:13:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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