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European Parliament vote opens a new age

September 17th, 2018

Commentators are sharply divided in their assessments of the clash between Hungary’s Prime Minister and his critics in the European Parliament. They agree however that what happened has opened a new chapter in the relations between Hungary and the European Union.

In her regular weekly Heti Világgazdaság editorial, Ibolya Jakus believes that what is at stake now is whether the Hungarian Prime Minister, who positions himself as the main opponent of centrist president Emmanuel Macron of France, will be accepted as the leader of what she calls the populist and anti-refugee forces. Another issue at stake is whether Mr Orbán will remain within the People’s Party or whether he will become a champion of the Eurosceptic camp. What is even more important, Jakus continues, is whether Europe will ‘slide towards the (far) right.’ She is relieved to note that 80% of the voters in last week’s elections in Sweden chose traditional moderate parties.

In his vitriolic front-page column in Élet és Irodalom, István Váncsa welcomes what he calls a belated reaction by the members of the European Parliament, who finally expressed themselves in terms that he finds more or less in conformity with reality. Váncsa believes however that the document they adopted only covers ‘a small portion of the misdeeds of the Orbán era’. Nonetheless, he welcomes what he calls ‘this great even’t. What a pity, he continues, that it is too late now, since the Western part of Europe is increasingly disintegrating both intellectually and morally.

in Magyar Hírlap, Mariann Őry believes that the voices condemning Hungary in the European Parliament last week were prompted by fear within the old ruling elite, which sees its influence evaporate and wants to stop the emerging forces. She hopes that the European elections next year will change the balance of forces in the European Parliament, as the present majority no longer represents the European electorate. It is time to reconquer the political discourse in Europe and then to reconquer Europe itself, Őry writes. Otherwise, she concludes, Europe will be invaded by new populations leaving no space either for the liberals or for the Christian Democrats who voted against Hungary last week.

On her Látószög blog, historian Mária Schmidt sees a German drive to rule Europe behind the events in the European Parliament. Chancellor Merkel, she writes, is trying to break out of the political squeeze she is in at home by launching an encircling action through Europe. This is why most German Christian Democrat MEPs voted in favour of the resolution to punish Hungary. President Macron of France made a big mistake in identifying an adversary in PM Orbán, she argues, because the two statesmen would have a shared interest in preventing Europe from being ruled by Germany. Mária Schmidt acknowledges that the vote in Brussels was a great victory for Mrs Merkel, but remarks that historically, Germans have been good at winning battles but bad at winning wars.

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