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Hungary gets its final notice from Brussels

January 13th, 2012

Now that the European Commission has demanded a U-turn from Hungary in her legislative and political course, commentators ponder what the possible consequences are, who is at fault and what should be done.

In Népszabadság, Edit Inotai thinks two scenarios are being drawn up in Brussels. The first aims at forcing the Hungarian government to a humiliating retreat in its judicial reform, and to revoke the law on the National Bank. If that option does not work, there is a second one in store: the leaders of the European People’s Party will then find a replacement for PM Viktor Orbán. “But that is only a last resort, an emergency scenario.”

In Népszava, on the other hand, editor in chief Péter Németh complains that the European Union is not tough enough with the right-wing Hungarian government. He believes that the ruling élite will not change their policy line, for they consider that the EU is just issuing empty threats which should not be taken seriously. “And here we will continue to stand, unfortunately, at Orbán’s mercy, on Europe’s periphery”.

This is not the first time Németh has accused the EU of handling Hungary with kid gloves, and his Wednesday editorial is criticised by Magyar Nemzet. “How on earth could such an article see the light of day, since (according to Németh) a fascistic regime is in place and therefore there is no press freedom?”  Zsuzsanna Körmendy asks sarcastically. She finds it revealing that PM Orbán’s potential left-wing challenger, Gordon Bajnai enjoys the support of the Center for American Progress, a brain trust supposedly behind US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Heti Válasz has claimed that Mr Bajnai’s foundation is „sponsored by the CEA”. Körmendy predicts, however, that Western pressure on Hungary will provoke the opposite to the intended effect. “No-one should be surprised if Hungarians interpret the attack on Orbán as directed against them personally, and against their own country.”

In Magyar Hírlap, Csaba Szajlai admits that Hungary’s fiscal conduct is not above all reproach. He wonders, however, why the preceding left wing governments could get away with their debt raising practices. Nevertheless, he contends, the Orbán government is duly expected to keep public finances in order – “and in case they don’t manage, they should be quick to admit their mistakes and apply immediate corrections.”

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