The European Parliament condemns Hungary’s Orbán government

At last there seems to be real action on the part of the European Parliament. What happened today may mean a new chapter in the relations between the European Union and the far-right nationalist government of Viktor Orbán. This time, over and above the normal verbal condemnation, the European Parliament called on the Commission to “immediately initiate an in-depth monitoring process on the situation of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary and to report back on this matter to the European Parliament and Council before September 2015.” We may have complained in the past about the snail-like pace of the EU bureaucracy, but today we cannot reproach them for being slow. The deadline is tight, but some of the work has already been done.

Almost two years ago Rui Tavares, a member of the European Parliament from Portugal, compiled an admirable report on Hungary’s violations of human rights and the basic values of the European Union. Anyone who’s interested in the details of this report should read Prof. Kim Lane Scheppele’s article, which appeared on this blog. Although the report was endorsed by the European Union and although it contained several recommendations, there was no follow-up. Now the European Commission has to dredge up the Tavares Report and add to it all the subsequent sins of the Orbán government. I trust that this time, finally, the Hungarian government’s flagrant violation of EU principles will have serious consequences.

Today’s condemnation is the final outcome of a discussion of the Hungarian situation initiated by the socialist (S&D), liberal (ALDE), and green (Greens-EFA) members of the European Parliament that took place on May 19th, with Viktor Orbán present. Today the objections to Hungarian government policies came to a vote. The differences of opinion on the Hungarian situation between the left and the right can be seen in my post of June 4, where I quoted the texts of the prepared points of the two sides.

The results of today’s vote are revealing. The European Parliament has 751 members. The vote for the resolution of the socialists, liberals, and greens was 362, with 247 against it. Eighty-eight members abstained, while 54 were either absent or didn’t vote. So, where did the yes votes come from? The S&D caucus has 191 members, ALDE 69, and the Greens 50. Thus the three parties that proposed the finally accepted resolution had a combined 310 votes if all their members were present and if they all voted for the resolution, not enough to pass it. GUE-NGL, a far-left group (as Fidesz calls them, communists), with 52 members was the most likely candidate to have made up the difference. We don’t know how many Christian Democrats (EPP) with 219 members, conservatives (ECR) with 72, or the euroskeptic EFDD with 47 voted for the resolution, but I suspect that a few did. One ought also to keep in mind that, in addition to the above parties, there are 51 independent members, including the three Jobbik delegates.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

The really telling number is the 88 abstentions, which most likely came from ambivalent EPP MEPs. There is a good possibility that between 35% and 40% of EPP members can no longer wholeheartedly support Fidesz. And that is bad news for the Orbán government, although the high-level Fidesz members who in the last few hours commented on the results tried to convince their supporters and most likely themselves as well that the vote confirmed that “the European People’s Party didn’t abandon the Hungarian government party.” Calling the resolution a “second Tavares report,” as Gergely Gulyás described today’s vote, is like comparing apples and oranges. What he most likely meant was that both are full of “distortions of facts.” The resolution may come as an unpleasant surprise, but Fidesz still feels confident enough to state, as Gulyás did at his press conference, that the position of the Hungarian government is clear: “we are against immigration.”

The Fidesz members of the EPP also expressed their views on the resolution. According to their official statement, in fairly poor English, “double standards have never been more apparent” than in this case. They attack the left and the liberals “for generating hysteria over Hungary.” The resolution, in their opinion, “resorts to labeling, bending the truth and factually false statements.” Moreover,

The leftist and liberal political groups discredit themselves once more: while they are ready to abuse their majority in the EP to hold plenary debates and pass resolutions on Hungary – even when there is in fact no Hungarian legislation to scrutinize – they remain silent on recent events in Romania. The double standards applied not only discredit the political groups but unfortunately also the European Parliament itself. This must stop! Hungarian citizens voted resolutely last year for a second term for Fidesz and KDNP. The respect of the democratic choice of the voters is the most basic democratic principle and should never be contested in the European Parliament.

In brief, once a government is elected, it can do anything it wants.

Jobbik has three members in the European Parliament who sit with the independents because no parliamentary delegation wanted to have anything to do with them. Their leader, Zoltán Balczó, naturally defended the government party because, after all, ideologically they are not very far apart. In his opinion, the resolution “will not have any consequences” and “the whole thing is simply a show.”

The two-member MSZP EP delegation published a short statement, unfortunately only in Hungarian, which praised the resolution as “a principled and at the same time unambiguous answer to Viktor Orbán’s provocation.”

The most sanguine statements came from Csaba Molnár and Péter Niedermüller, the two DK EP members. They most likely overstated the case when they claimed that “a significant portion of the European People’s Party supported the resolution.” But I agree that EPP support for Fidesz by EPP has been eroding.

I think it is a wishful thinking on the part of Jobbik’s Balczó that the resolution will have no consequences. The European Commission is no longer the commission of José Manuel Barroso. Jean-Claude Juncker and Frans Timmermans, his right-hand man, are a great deal less accommodating than Barroso was when it comes to the increasingly unacceptable behavior of the Hungarian prime minister.

 

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Member

Zoltán Gulyás has a different opinion, he forgot about numerous abstentons on behalf of EPP

DAVID SADE
Guest
What can I say…? The old phrase “too little and too late” is true as far as the EU and its various administrative bodies are concerned. They, in theory at least, had and still have all the means of intervening in the policies of the Orban Government. Whilst it is true that the EU cannot interfere directly in the internal matter of an EU member state, there is nothing to stop the leaders of those member states publicly declare their objections to the practices of the Orban regime. In the past 5 years there were plenty of opportunities, but these lapsed without any meaningful and clear statements form these leaders. Those very leaders of the EU knew perfectly well what kind of a dictatorial system of governance is being built by the regime of Victor Orban. They remained silent in the face of the Tavares and Scheppele reports, and the in the face of the daily abuse of power by the Hungarian Government… The average Hungarian citizens, who were and still are expecting decisive steps by the EU, were left to their own devices… And I must add that the attitude of the EU by which “if the Hungarian citizens… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Never too late!

I am heartened by the actions of the US relating to UEFA because they seem to have
an effect worldwide. In Bulgaria, there is a revolt against the corruption in the national chess organization. People are rallying against that powerful organization. Let that be a sign of things to come for Russia and its lapdog, Hungary. Legality is the order of the day! You will soon be called to account…

Guest

I also believe the EU will not do anything more than some meaningless gesture. EPP might be split on the issue but let’s not be mistaken, Fidesz still has some substantial support within EPP’s ranks. The EC is also very cautious about the position it may adopt against Hungary for it might have counter-productive effects among Hungary’s population and you can be sure Orbán will use it in his own interest.

Vince
Guest

According to the polls conducted by Media (which is the most reliable) published in this week’s HVG Fidesz’ popularty increased by 4 points in the last two months and Jobbik stayed at its top (16 points) and it’s non-rejection figure now stands at a record 43% (its now the least hated party).

In other words the right-wing is getting significantly stronger. Orban and Habony and Finkelstein scored big with the immigration issue, despite Ketfarkú’s activities.

MSZP is so irrelevant that it decreased by 3-4 points to 8% and the rest of the left-wing micro parties stabilized but could not increase.

Orban is still the wizard and Jobbik is getting ready. The left wing is finished.

Nádas
Guest

Prof. Balogh writes, “I trust that this time, finally, the Hungarian government’s flagrant violation of EU principles will have serious consequences.”

I wonder what form those consequences could take.

exTor
Guest

Offtopic re Mandiner.

A poster [‘spectator’] yesterday provided a mandiner.hu link, which I did check out. I later learned that ‘mandiner’ in Hungarian means ‘cushion’.

A while ago I read, somewhere in Budapest Beacon, that Mandiner has a sizable Fidesz readership, implying that Mandiner supports Fidesz.

Because of the unsophisticated level of my Hungarian, I need to know who [which website] stands where before I start to read political pieces.

How does the cognoscenti here see Mandiner? Thanx.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

Re: the EU, Princeps Orban, Putin and ‘mesmerization’, Magyarorszag (unfortunately) as ‘lapdog’…

I guess maybe it has become clearer to the EU that the Orban empire is perhaps more a Russian mole in the European political and cultural fabric than a nation interested in democratic principles. Moles as we know can generate great betrayals when it’s time to unleash hell. Maybe they really have the ‘cancer’ in view as they analyze the Magyar political body?

I’d say Orban and his cadres are mesmerized with Vladimir. The man they think knows how to run a country and put forth its interests. They like the way he’s walking through the world right now. They think he’s got the initiative so they imitate by showing a Mark Twainish orientation to the execution of power by doing everything with the ‘calm confidence of a Christian with four aces’.

On the EU slap, yes better late than never. Maybe it’ll give a kick in the pants to get back to checks and balances, human rights and a better chance for Magyars to go after life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness no matter how others act to disabuse them of the notion.

petofi
Guest

@Rikard

“Maybe it’ll give a kick in the pants to get back to checks and balances…”

Nope.

We have to realize that Orban has not only skewed the political system but he has had a massive effect on people’s reactions to criticism. All nay-saying on Hungary/Orban is a betrayal of the homeland by those who believe in it. Hence, Orban has trapped the average Hungarian’s perception into the do-do land of automatic approval.

For the moment, I’m afraid that Hungarians are like the deer trapped in the headlights–they can’t move. They’ll need a major shock to the nervous system to snap out of it.

Guest
Re: ‘ All nay-saying on Hungary/Orban is a betrayal of the homeland by those who believe in it. Hence, Orban has trapped the average Hungarian’s perception into the do-do land of automatic approval’ Agree with that. That’s how autocrats rule. But you know when you speak of the average Magyar under the current circumstances I sort of go into a nice reverie thinking about how an ‘average’ Magyar treated this ‘kulfoldi’. I wanted my wife to see the ‘homeland’ of the Magyars and of my parents who emigrated. So we went travelling around in the late 70’s (ok time to to get into the old time machine!) and found ourselves in Visegrad and Esztergom since we just had to see the great history represented there. At one point a middle-aged lady came up to me and said would we like to come visit her house a little way up the road. I said sure but to be frank I was surprised that it wasn’t me that initiated the conversation but her. So naturally when we got to her home and started to talk in conversation with her I just had to ask why she picked us to be ‘vendegs’. And… Read more »
Guest
Re: ‘ All nay-saying on Hungary/Orban is a betrayal of the homeland by those who believe in it. Hence, Orban has trapped the average Hungarian’s perception into the do-do land of automatic approval’ Agree with that. That’s how autocrats rule. But you know when you speak of the average Magyar under the current circumstances I sort of go into a nice reverie thinking about how an ‘average’ Magyar treated this ‘kulfoldi’. I wanted my wife to see the ‘homeland’ of the Magyars and of my family who emigrated. So we went travelling around in the late 70’s (ok time to to get into the old time machine!) and found ourselves in Visegrad and Esztergom since we just had to see the great history represented there. At one point a middle-aged lady came up to me and said would we like to come visit her house a little way up the road. I said sure but to be frank I was surprised that it wasn’t me that initiated the conversation but her. So naturally when we got to her home and started to talk in conversation with us I just had to ask why she picked us to be ‘vendegs’. And… Read more »
Miklos
Guest

As Senator Mc.Cain stated Orban is in bed with Putin. Now Putin spent one hour with the Pope in the Vatican, I wonder will the Senator or Rikard (who ever he is) say that the Pope is also in the same bed???

Guest

Well you know if I was Francis I’d check the room after Vlad left. Dominus Vobiscum…

googly
Guest
Strangely, when I tried to post this comment on the relevant page, I was informed that it was closed for comments. I apologise for being off topic, but this is important to me. Eva, As you mentioned, the first thing I could find on the Croation topic was a book published in 1962 called The Slavs in European History and Civilization, so it was probably written by someone who finished high school in the 1950s, but it was published by Rutgers, a respected US academic source. Here’s a relevant passage: “The last Árpád kings had granted many exemptions from the jurisdiction of the bans. Charles Robert suppressed all such exemptions in 1325, allowing only an appeal to the king from the court of the ban. Unfortunately, this measure resulted in a curtailment of Croat independence. The kings presented such appeals to the supreme court of Hungary, which thus achieved a kind of supremacy over the court of the bans. This situation aroused protests from the Croats. “Hungarian influences penetrated Croatia more and more. This was particularly visible in Slavonia, nearest to Hungary proper. For example, although the tribal župas in Croatia proper remained intact until the fourteenth century, the tribal… Read more »
exTor
Guest

You have become exercised by this issue, which is beyond the purview of Hungarian Spectrum, googly. Fixations on minute particularnesses of history are unhealthy because they distract from the here-and-now.

Éva is correct in not allowing herself to be sucked into your morass. Sorry. Her perspective on what constitutes colonies is, in the broad sense, correct and your Irish example does not contradict her.

As for getting cut off, I believe that this website has been set up so that comments are allowable for 120 hours [5 days] following the time of the posting of the day’s topic. That is what I have been able to determine.

Again, this is not a forum to discuss the historical record, this is a forum to discuss Hungary, mostly with respect to its current political situation. Tangentialization is distraction. Your Croat minutiae does not belong here. Sorry.

MAGYARKOZÓ

googly
Guest

Here’s a quote from Conflict and Chaos in Eastern Europe, published in 1995:

“The military border provided the Croats with a taste of independence from general Hungarian control during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but that period was followed by a sense of disappointment and growing discontent over the Hungarians’ gradually reestablishing their authority in Croatia throughout the eighteenth. Having experienced the relative autonomy granted by the Habsburg authorities to local Croatian leaders within the framework of the military border administration, the Croats found it difficult to swallow Hungarian attempts to exert a more direct sociopolitical presence in Croatian affairs, based on rights received by the Hungarians in the medieval union of the two kingdoms.”

That sounds like a subordinate position to me, though it might not be considered to be a colonial one.

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