Opposition parties are on the same page in harshly criticizing the Fidesz-led Hungarian government for vetoing the EU budget and coronavirus recovery package over the rule of law issue. According to them, if the Prime Minister would seriously veto the plan, Viktor Orbán’s move would “endanger the livelihoods of many,” only in order to “secure his corrupt system.”
According to Momentum‘s president, “the rule of law mechanism to prevent the theft of EU money and the destruction of democracy is unacceptable for the Prime Minister, who has been turning taxpayers’ money into his family’s property for years now. According to András Fekete-Győr, PM Orbán rarely plays with hid cards on the table, but now he has made it clear: if he can’t have the money, no one can.” He thinks Orbán’s move risks the continent into sinking into a severe recession while it also hinders the Hungarian economy’s recovery. “It’s a shame that for Viktor Orbán his own power and money are more important than the lives of Hungarians,” the liberal party leader concluded.
In leftist Democratic Coalition‘s (DK) view, the Prime Minister throws away HUF 17 billion (EUR 47.1 billion) of support with the veto. “If [Orbán-ally billionaire Lőrinc] Mészáros or the other NER [System of National Cooperation] oligarchs cannot take the EU’s support, then neither can local governments, businesses, nor Hungarians receive it! This is actually how the saying goes: let the neigbor’s cow die too!”
According to right-wing opposition Jobbik MEP Márton Gyöngyösi, “Orbán and Fidesz betrayed Hungary and the Hungarian people once again!” Viktor Orbán “unscrupulously vetoed the package of hope for the people crippled due to the crisis just because they don’t want to let him unscrupulously steal the money and build his own corrupt empire.”
A Socialist (MSZP) MEP called Orbán’s move “roadside blackmail.” However, the rule of law mechanism is on the way, István Ujhelyi argued, and Fidesz cannot prevent it anymore, as the European Parliament will soon vote it, meaning that it will enter into effect in January. Orbán can only delay this, which would be harmful for all Member States hit by the crisis, including Hungary.
LMP wrote that vetoing the EU budget would be a historic crime. The centrist green party calls “on the government not to confuse the interests of Fidesz and that of Hungary. Rule of law is a universal value, and if the government has nothing to worry about in this matter, then it shouldn’t be afraid of the examinations, like a devil does from holy water.” According to the green-centrist party, the veto would push millions of Hungarians into poverty and wouldn’t leave enough money for a green turnaround either.
Non-parliamentary, far-right Mi Hazánk, on the other hand, is rather critical with Orbán for failing to support measures to prepare Hungary’s exit from the Union. In deputy leader and MP Dóra Dúró’s view, the imperial aspirations of the EU are getting stronger, the Brussels bureaucrats meddle in everything, while their promises are not fulfilled. “Interestingly, back in 2006 they were somehow not too worried about the rule of law [she was referring to brutal police attacks against protesters under the Socialist-liberal Gyurcsány government], but now they want to force on us the mass reception of migrants and the demands of the LGBTQ lobby. Who knows what they will be up to in the future, by blackmailing us with the money we are rightfully entitled to.”
Meanwhile, former European Commissioner and Foreign Minister Tibor Navracsics of Fidesz thinks that although the weakest point of the whole debate is that there is still no universal, undisputed definition of rule of law, for the Polish and Hungarian governments this is no longer the issue to discuss. For them, the debate is already about “identity” and “national sovereignty.” Therefore, the EU’s usual solution-finding methods do not seem to be the way to go this time, as no one wants to further compromise on this one, neither the two governments, nor the EU institutions and Member States. The whole conflict is thus a game of chicken that could eventually end with “total success” but with “tragic disaster” as well, Navracsics argues.
In addition, former MEP and state secretary of foreign affairs of liberal SZDSZ István Szent-Iványi, advises that instead of making swift conclusions, let’s just “wait and see,” while similarly labeling the events a “chicken game.” According to him, the Hungarian government is not interested in attracting the anger of those who have not been angry with it so far, because of the veto. While the approval of the EU’s next seven-year budget can wait, EU Member States in southern Europe, including Italy and Spain, hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, are seriously counting on the recovery fund’s money to arrive by January, he argued.
Featured photo by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office/MTI