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Hungarian elections: Putin's man in Europe survives

by IdiotSavant Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 04:53:45 AM EST

Hungary went to the polls today in parliamentary elections, in which would-be dictator Viktor Orbán - Putin's man in Europe - was facing a unified opposition for the first time since taking power in 2010. Unfortunately, it didn't go well:

Frontpaged - Bernard

Viktor Orbán has won a fourth successive term as Hungary's prime minister, capping a campaign dominated by his controversial stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine with a speech that appeared to mock Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian leader.

Ecstatic chants of "Viktor, Viktor" greeted Orbán as he addressed supporters of his Fidesz party outside its election headquarters on the banks of the Danube in Budapest as results made the scale of his victory apparent.

With nearly 86% of the vote counted on Sunday night, Fidesz was on course to increase its parliamentary majority by winning 135 seats in the 199-member parliament, crushing a six-party opposition bloc that united to form a common front aimed at unseating Orbán.

Instead, the ruling party has retained its two-thirds super majority, which has enabled it to reshape Hungarian politics and social policy during its 12 years in power.

Fidesz won just over 50% of the vote, but Hungary's unfair electoral system magnified that into a two-thirds majority. And this will further enable Hungary's slow transition from a democracy into an authoroitarian dictatorship. Orbán has already gone quite a way along that path (and went further, with pre-election amendments to electoral law to limit the ability of the opposition to contest elections), and unfortunately it looks like it will stay on that path. So now it will be up to the European Union to protect Hungarian democracy. On that front, there's already ongoing court action, and a cut in funding from the EU. And the war in Ukraine and resulting split between Poland (which is firmly anti-Russian) and Hungary has likely deprived Hungary of political cover in the EU council, potentially allowing further action.

The advantage of having Hungary in the EU, is that it's very difficult to refuse admission to another country on grounds of lack of liberal democracy, separation of powers, media freedom, anti-corruption...
to the likes of Ukraine.
Or Turkey, for that matter.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 10:28:12 AM EST
At the risk o transforming all of the EU into an emergent kleptocracy. Frankly, I don't think its worth that risk, and I would support a smaller EU that enshrined "liberal democracy" in its constitution. Hungary should be invited to trigger A.50 if it continues along its current path.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 02:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, Orbán is not going to invoke Article 50: why should he cut himself from the money flow?

He has found a much better (for him) system: subverting the EU from the inside, while preserving his own autocratic rule at home, along with his, and his cronies, enrichment.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 06:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Orbán system and, to a lesser extent, the PiS government in Poland, represent a major threat to the European Union.

Brexit was also aimed at EU by its proponents, but it didn't represent any threat; much the opposite: it helped cement the EU states unity - against the UK.

Orbán has managed to carve out a system within the EU, where he is holding all the powers, the media are under his control (or his cronies), the power to change the constitution, etc... He and his cronies have also amassed a considerable fortune, thanks to the unopposed political power and essentially having their hands on the EU money spigot. Not to mention his outspoken support for Putin and his characterization of the Ukrainian president as 'an opponent'.

All this on the EU taxpayers dime: Hungary, along with Poland is the biggest net receivers of the EU budget. The EU doesn't have any institutional mechanism to expel a misbehaving member: Article 50 can only be invoked by the member state itself, as we know,, but Orbán doesn't want to get off the gravy train. Article 7 allows to suspend certain rights from a member state, but it requires unanimity among the other members: as long as Poland can veto its application to Hungary and vice versa, this instrument is blocked.

There can be some other measures, such as blocking some funds like the EU recovery plan, but the application is going to be difficult. Meanwhile, Orbán has an enormous power of nuisance, since he can veto any EU decision requiring unanimity: this will certainly prevent some EU-wide measures to support Ukraine and sanction Russia.

Orbán didn't happen by himself: the EPP has turned a blind eye for way too long, benefiting from from the Fidesz MEP's addition to their headcount.

Countering Orbán is vital for the long term future of the EU .

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 06:48:28 PM EST
There are ways around Orban. Firstly, Poland may not be quite so supportive now that it is close to  the frontline of Russian aggression.

Secondly, the EU can invoke a variable speed geometry whereby many EU initiatives are adopted voluntarily by supportive members without unanimous agreement. CF the Eurogroup of Finance Ministers.

Gradually to husk of the old EU containing non supportive members is allowed to die away and the new EU emerges with much tighter rules about democracy, convergence and cohesion. Guess who won't be allowed into the new club?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 09:28:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the EU needs a strong central government?
by asdf on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 10:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may come to that, and it is certainly an aspiration for European integrationists, but the EU project is currently very far from that, with the member states guarding their national sovereignties jealously and only pooling very distinct competencies/areas of sovereignty. Only severe and direct external aggression could change that I suspect.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 5th, 2022 at 04:09:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OCSE finds election was "well administered and professionally managed but marred by the absence of a level playing field", and finds problems with media coverage, the lack of debates, and the unfair electoral system.

The full report is here.

by IdiotSavant on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 10:24:13 PM EST
It's basically what the Republicans did in Wisconsin but nationwide: Just rig the districts so you win even if you lose (or win enormously even if you win modestly).

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 11:26:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus: having you and your cronies controlling all the local media in Hungarian language; that's even better than Wisconsin.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Apr 5th, 2022 at 04:01:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's back to business in hand
The European Commission announced on Tuesday (5 April) that it will trigger a conditionality mechanism linking EU funds to the rule of law, just days after Hungary's general election saw Prime Minister Viktor Orban secure a fourth consecutive term.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs on Tuesday that EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn had informed the Hungarian authorities that the European executive will trigger the so-called conditionality mechanism.

The mechanism, if implemented, could see countries with systemic rule of law problems lose out on EU funds - however, the process will likely take months to complete.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 6th, 2022 at 04:23:37 PM EST
Irish  Times Letters; Hungary and the EU

Hungary and Serbia have just elected Putin allies into government. That is their democratic right, even if the elections weren't conducted by fully democratic means. However, there is no reason why the EU should tolerate a state of affairs whereby EU money is funnelled to the cronies of oligarchic leaders who give aid and comfort to our enemies. Any discussions about Serbia joining the EU should now end.

The EU should also invite Viktor Orban to trigger Article 50 and leave the EU. Failing that the EU should trigger the enhanced cooperation mechanisms for fully supportive and democratic EU member states. A bit like the Eurogroup, which only includes Eurozone members, these mechanisms enable further cooperation between willing states over and beyond what countries like Hungary are willing to support.

 Any incremental EU spend should only be directed through this "new enhanced cooperation" EU. Gradually, as the "new" EU develops, it can shed the "old" EU, Hungary included, as so much dead skin. The current EU budget could be the last with all new shared funding being directed through the new EU. The new EU should also have greater enforcement powers for ECJ decisions, and more use of weighted majority voting, to prevent one or two members holding the rest up to ransom.

It's time we stopped faffing around with would be dictators. who undermine the democratic freedoms of EU citizens. When it comes to an existential crisis like Ukraine, we need to be clear on who is for and against the development of a greater and more democratic EU. It is clear that Putin (who supported Brexit) and his supporters are now our enemies. It's time the whole structure and membership of the EU reflected that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Apr 6th, 2022 at 11:20:48 PM EST

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