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Juncker’s candidacy opposed by PM Orbán

May 28th, 2014

Conservative pundits believe the Prime Minister is now bereft of significant opponents at home as a result of two consecutive elections, and is therefore seeking new battlefields at the European level. This explains, they suggest, why Mr Orbán was the first front-line EU leader to openly defy Jean-Claude Juncker’s nomination for President of the European Commission.

In a TV interview two days before the EP elections, PM Orbán said he would resolutely oppose the idea of nominating the former Luxembourg Premier as the successor of outgoing EC chief José Manuel Barroso. He added that other Luxembourgish politicians had offended Hungary on several occasions. (Outgoing Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding is a vocal critic of the Hungarian government (See BudaPost 20012-2013 ) while in 2010 Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called Mr Orbán a dictator and likened him to the Belorussian leader Lukasenko. Mr Juncker, who was his boss as Prime Minister, said at the time that this was by no means the official stance of the government, but Mr Asselborn declared that his views were shared by the Prime Minister.)

Reviewing the political landscape after the parliamentary elections in April and the vote for the European Parliament last Sunday in Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető sees no credible challenger to Prime Minister Orbán. Without real rivals, he continues, it is understandable that the Prime Minister is looking for challenges and takes risks on the European scene. He can afford to engage in such a trial of strength because his hinterland at home is solid and because he achieved the most sweeping electoral victory within the European People’s Party.

On Mos Maiorum, Ferenc Horkay-Hörcher also remarks that Mr Orbán is left with no powerful challengers at home, although challenge is a vital feature of his political personality. Democracy in general needs opposition, and Mr Orbán in particular has always moved forward through a series of open conflicts with successive opponents. Horkay-Hörcher warns against interpreting the success of Euro-sceptic parties as proof that the public is growing anti-European and extremist. He believes that what more and more Europeans have turned against is not the European Union, but an over-centralised view of it. Thus, he suggests, voters want more substantive democracy, not less, and the Union had better understand that. By representing that view in the open, Mr Orbán is taking a sizeable risk, but in the name of a resolute, although moderate policy of representing national interest, which may well pay off in the long run.

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