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Barroso’s ultimatum rejected

December 24th, 2011

A popular political analyst suspects that Mr Barroso’s “ultimatum” to Viktor Orbán may be part of a plan to topple the Hungarian Prime Minister.

As BudaPost reported on Friday, in a letter to PM Viktor Orbán, the Chairman of the European Commission demanded the withdrawal of two pivotal bills. Senior officials told the press that although at least one of them would be heavily amended, both would be passed before the end of the year. On Friday night Mr Orbán gave an interview to the pro-government HirTV television and said he rejected Mr Barroso’s request, because “the two bills do not contain anything he would be in a position to question.”

In his widely read blog, political scientist Gábor Török says Mr Orbán’s reply is a rational one, if we suppose that Hungary does not badly need a credit line from the EU and the IMF. Indeed, giving in to the demands would have caused serious political harm to a prime minter who has so defiantly compared Brussels to Moscow (in its role as capital of the Soviet Union).

On the other hand, if Hungary risks insolvency without that credit line,  Mr Orbán’s decision may cause him more headaches in the future than bowing to the ultimatum would now.

Török raises the possibility that this was precisely what Mr Barroso intended, and this may explain why the top EU official despatched such a brisk ultimatum to Viktor Orbán, in the full expectation that he would reject it out of hand.

In a comment appended to Török’s post, one reader replies that the European Union cannot intend to drive Hungary into bankruptcy simply in order to get rid of its prime minister. In such an eventuality, he suggests, scores of Austrian banks which are heavily exposed in Hungary would also collapse.

In Magyar Nemzet, Matild Torkos hopes that the Hungarian government knows how far it can go in defying “the world of finance”. It has “hit the wall several times and has often been forced to retreat. By now they have perhaps gathered sufficient experience to gauge how the world of finance will react to their steps.” Torkos believes that now that Hungary’s sovereign debt has been downgraded to junk status by a second rating agency, “we are in real need of a stand-by credit, even at higher interest rates.” That being so, she does not understand, why “we bunnies had to tug at the lion’s moustache,” by introducing an “otherwise reasonable” bill on the National Bank.

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