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Weeklies on Macron, Márki-Zay and the Constitutional Court

December 20th, 2021

In their last issues before the end of the year, most weeklies concentrate on the Christmas festivities. Pro-government media largely avoid analysis of the political events of the week, while the main left-wing media find several developments worthy of comment.

In his Magyar Hang column on Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Hungary, international affairs analyst Gábor Stier suggests that the French President came here as part of an effort to build the largest possible international coalition to back his aspiration to become Europe’s number one leader after Angela Merkel’s departure. His main aim, Stier believes, was to enlist the Visegrád 4 group behind that endeavour. This is why, the commentator continues, he only paid lip service to principles as the rule of law, on which he disagrees with the governments of Hungary and Poland. Another broad subject on which Stier finds them in disagreement is the future of Europe, with Mr Macron favouring a federal European Union, while the Hungarian Prime Minister advocates a ‘Europe of nations’. On the other hand, the Hungarian government also urges stronger European sovereignty in the field of defence which coincides with France’s policy as a nuclear state and major arms producer. Stier doesn’t believe that either Hungary or the Visegrád 4 are Macron’s most important allies in his project, and cites a pact recently concluded between France and Italy on cooperation over bilateral relations and the future of Europe, to back up his point. The analyst is certain that the engine of European integration will continue to turn around the Paris – Berlin axis, but if France wants to play a dominant role in it, it will need all possible allies.

In 168 óra, Attila Buják has strong misgivings about the attitude of the Democratic Coalition, currently the strongest single opposition party, towards the recently elected opposition candidate for Prime Minister. Their original plan for last autumn’s primary, as he sees it, was to get Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony elected as front-runner, with the Democratic Coalition as the strongest political factor behind him. It looks like the opposition electorate revolted and chose a complete outsider as front-runner in the person of Péter Márki-Zay, he notes. What’s more, Márki-Zay obviously wants to be a real leader and has no intention of just fulfilling the wishes of the traditional left-wing parties. As the commentator sees it, his efforts are being constantly sabotaged by DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány. Buják quotes an unnamed veteran left-wing personality, who suggests that Mr Gyurcsány bears a grudge, and by addressing Márki-Zay as ‘captain’ who should be in charge, he actually marked his withdrawal from the campaign. ‘Let’s see what he can achieve on his own’ – is Gyurcsány’s approach, Buják believes. Márki-Zay, he fears, would be a perfect scapegoat if the opposition loses next April’s election.

In Jelen, Ákos Tóth interprets the latest ruling by the Hungarian constitutional court on European matters as a partial defeat for the government. Justice Minister Judit Varga, he suggests, would have expected the court to issue a ruling similar to that of Poland’s constitutional judges earlier this autumn. He thinks the Warsaw ruling denied the primacy of European law over national law, while the Hungarian one stops short of doing so. Commenting on the government’s request to evaluate a verdict by the European Court of Justice which ruled that Hungary should allow asylum seekers to enter the country and file for asylum, the court refused to overrule the decisions of the European Court. It said, however, that whenever the Union is unable to solve a problem, the Hungarian authorities are entitled to step in and take the necessary measures. Tóth dismisses Judit Varga’s statement that the ruling corroborates the decision by the Hungarian government, whereby all asylum requests should be filed through Hungary’s consulates abroad. In his view, the wording used by the Constitutional Court means that Hungary can only refuse to allow them to place their requests on Hungarian territory in the event of a massive inflow of migrants.

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