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Debate over rule of law continues

October 5th, 2020

Left-wing and liberal commentators accuse the government of waging a propaganda war in its handling of EU criticism of the rule of law in Hungary. Pro-government pundits, on the other hand, think that the EU’s criticism originates from the domestic opposition, and is being used to blackmail the country.

In 168 Óra, Péter Hamvay suggests that Prime Minister Orbán ‘started a new war of independence against the EU’ when he called for the removal of EC Vice-President Vera Jourová. The left-wing columnist finds Jourová’s criticism of the Hungarian government justified, but also thinks that the German proposal to make access to the EU coronavirus recovery fund conditional on respect for the rule of law, is too weak to stop the erosion of media freedom in Hungary.

Magyar Demokrata’s editor-in-chief András Bencsik criticizes Vera Jourová for suggesting that ‘the dictatorship of the majority is no democracy’. The pro-government pundit writes that democracy by definition means the rule of the democratically elected majority over the minority. Bencsik goes on to claim that it is liberals who, following the Bolshevik ideology, advocate a ‘sick democracy’ and want to grab power using undemocratic means, such as media influence, and slogans like the rule of law, and checks and balances.

Élet és Irodalom’s editor-in-chief Zoltán Kovács thinks that Vera Jourová only reiterated the criticism already included in statements by the Venice Commission, the Tavares report and the Sargentini report. The liberal journalist finds Jourová’s statement justified, noting that the EC Vice-President criticized the Hungarian government rather than the people of Hungary. Kovács adds that many Hungarians are unable to formulate informed and independent opinion as they do not have access to proper information. Kovács accuses the government of trying to distort reality so that Hungarians do not realize that their country is ruled by what he calls a corrupt oligarchy.

In Mérce, Orsi Pósfai writes that the Hungarian government itself is now ‘demanding a safe space’ and political correctness. The alt-left blogger believes that by trying to silence Jourová, the Hungarian government is doing exactly what it has criticized in the case of liberals: it wants to silence its critics by advocating politically correct conduct and speech.

Magyar Nemzet’s Ottó Gajdics believes that the EC rule of law country report is ‘a pure lie’ based on the ‘propaganda of the Orbáno-phobic opposition parties’ and the opinions of NGOs financed by George Soros. Commenting on EP Vice-President Katarina Barley’s statement that Hungary ‘must be starved financially’ unless it complies with EU norms, Gajdics contends that the EU wants to blackmail Hungary by threatening it with the withholding of funding.

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