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Weeklies on the new setup within the EU

July 22nd, 2019

A pro-government analyst looks into the background of the votes cast by Hungarian left-liberal MPs against Fidesz candidates for EU posts. A liberal weekly lambasts the Greens and the Socialists for not supporting Ursula von der Leyen’s election as President of the European Commission. An evangelist columnist interprets her election as an expression of Germany’s drive to dominate the EU.

Demokrata’s Sayfo Omar believes that the opposition parties began a new era by preventing the election of three Fidesz nominees to various posts in the European Parliament. Earlier, he writes, the Hungarian opposition never actively supported what he calls EU attacks on Hungary. True, Hungarian Socialists did back the Tavares report back in 2013 and five years later MEPs of the Hungarian left liberal opposition did vote in favour of the Sargentini report which condemned Hungary on various counts, but as he sees it, the opposition was largely passive on all these issues. The latest attacks on Fidesz nominees, Sayfo suggests, prove that the opposition now considers Brussels as a scene for domestic political battles. He sees that as a strange practice, in comparison to Spanish or Polish parties who despite their sharp differences at home always reciprocally support each other’s candidates within the European Union. The governing forces must now prepare for confrontation with their own compatriots in Brussels, he concludes.

In its regular weekly editorial, Magyar Narancs thinks socialists and greens in the European Parliament should have supported the candidacy of the new President of the European Commission, as because of their refusal to do so, she now owes her election to the votes of the governing parties of Poland and Hungary, and may feel indebted to them. The editors are not fully convinced that all the Hungarian and Polish MEPs in question did actually vote for Mrs von der Leyen in the secret ballot, but they are absolutely certain that the majority of socialist MEPs did refuse to support her. They admit that her programme speech before the vote in the plenary session was conspicuously too leftist for a Christian Democrat, and left-wingers had every reason to suspect that she was just playing a game to win their votes. Nevertheless, they continue, if only one tenth of that programme were to materialise, it would ‘shake Orbán’s and Kaczynski’s regimes’. But how can von der Leyen ‘protect Europe from Orbán’, they ask, ‘if support from the Hungarian Prime Minister was indispensable for her narrow victory?’ They end on two more questions: ‘Why could the Socialists not see that? And what could have been more important than that?’

In Hetek, Máté Kulifay interprets the choice of von der Leyen as President of the European Commission as a typical example of the ‘bleed them dry tactic’ usually practised by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who enjoys dragging political decisions out until all participants are so exhausted that all rival candidates fall out, with the result that her secret scenario is put through. Kulifay reads von der Leyen’s career as proof that she is on good terms with big business, and since the Hungarian government entertains excellent relations with German investors, her selection may be seen as a guarantee that Hungarian leaders will not have any serious problems with the European Commission either in terms of the rule of law or otherwise. On the other hand, he continues, she represents a vision of Europe including same-sex marriage, gender quotas and gay adoption rights, as well as ‘a European federalism based on German Imperial ambitions’ which is strongly opposed by Hungarian government.

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