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War of Words Escalates After Jourová’s ‘Sick Democracy’ Comment and PM Orbán’s Reaction

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.09.30.

A war of words started after EC Vice-President Věra Jourová, a commissioner on EU values, accused Orbán of building a “sick democracy” in an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel. Several politicians have since expressed their opinions about the incident. Guy Verhofstadt, for example, thinks EC President von der Leyen should bin Orbán’s letter demanding the removal of the commissioner from her post.

After Jourová’s  “sick democracy” comments, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote a letter to Ursula von der Leyen demanding Jourová’s resignation from her post. Orbán also announced that until the commissioner resigns, the Hungarian government will suspend any political contacts with her.

Orbán Demands EC Vice President Jourová’s Resignation Over 'Sick Democracy' Comment
Orbán Demands EC Vice President Jourová’s Resignation Over 'Sick Democracy' Comment

In an interview with Spiegel, EC Vice President Vera Jourová said Viktor Orbán “is building a sick democracy.” In reaction, Hungary’s Justice Minister called for her resignation, while Viktor Orbán also announced in a letter to EC President von der Leyen that the Hungarian government is suspending any political contacts with the commissioner. In an […]Continue reading

Since then, many politicians have also shared their opinions about the incident.

Speaking to Hungarian reporters in Brussels, Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch said that lacking objective and impartial operation, Jourová has become unsuitable for working as a member of the EC and to fulfill her tasks. Hungary most resolutely rejects any commissioner harshly attacking an EU member state, Deutsch added.

Representatives of the opposition parties, of course, had a different opinion about the words of the EC Vice President.

After Judit Varga demanded Jourová’s resignation on Twitter,  Opposition Momentum MEP and Hungarian ‘Renew Europe’ deputy Katalin Cseh shared her thoughts in a reply.

EC on Orbán's Demand for Jourova's Resignation: VP Enjoys EC President's 'Full Trust'
EC on Orbán's Demand for Jourova's Resignation: VP Enjoys EC President's 'Full Trust'

After Prime Minister Viktor Orbán demanded EC Vice President Jourova’s resignation from her post as the commissioner on EU values, the EC assured her of their continuous support. Meanwhile, the commissioner commented on the PM’s letter, rejecting the claim that she had offended the Hungarian people. “We have seen the letter from Prime Minister Orbán […]Continue reading

“Well, Judit Varga, what ‘humiliates Hungarian people’ is the corruption that made the Prime Minister’s pipe-fitter pal and son-in-law the richest men in the country. That’s utterly humiliating for all Hungarians working hard to get ahead,” the liberal politician wrote.

In reaction to Orbán’s letter, fellow ‘Renew Europe’ MEP Guy Verhofstadt said on Facebook that, “My advice to von der Leyen on Orbán’s letter: bin it. My advice to Orbán when respect and democracy are being discussed: zip it. Věra Jourová is doing her job protecting the EU and rights of Hungarians and must not be bullied.”

https://www.facebook.com/GuyVerhofstadt/posts/10159095048865016

Momentum MEP Anna Donáth, also a Hungarian deputy for ‘Renew Europe,’ agreed with Jourová’s remarks. She told The Parliament Magazine’s news site that, Orbán indeed “purposefully undermining the rule of law, weakening the country’s immune system to reduce the fight against corruption.”

She added, “These statements are more than Věra Jourová’s own views. They echo the European Parliament’s decision to launch Article 7, the EPP’s decision to suspend Fidesz, the recent words of Donald Tusk and many others. According to Donáth it “makes no sense” for the Hungarian government to mount a “crusade” against Jourová. “The issue here is Orbán,” she emphasized.

In an interview with commercial broadcaster ATV, Jobbik MEP Márton Gyöngyösi called Jourová’s sick democracy comment “unusual” but ultimately found that the pun did not cross the line.

When talking about the state of the Hungarian media, Jourová could have composed her words more carefully, Gyöngyösi said, emphasizing that “Hungarian media pluralism,” however, can indeed be criticized.

Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi said in a video message that the Hungarian government was using its call for the EC vice-president’s resignation to divert attention from matters like the German EU presidency’s upcoming proposal regarding respect for the rule of law. The EU’s approval of that proposal would mean that it will “no longer sit idly by” as the government continues to “water down” Hungary’s democracy, he said.

Featured photo via Jourova’s Twitter page