Hungary: Orbán increasingly isolated
6 January 2012
The reinforcement of the executive branch of government and the weakening of checks and balances has been criticised by newspapers in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe at a moment when the country has been struck by a financial crisis that is steadily worsening as investors lose confidence in Budapest.
For left-wing 168 óra, “Orbán should peacefully resign while he still has time” so as ”to avoid an economic catastrophe”. According to Heti Világgazdaság, it is time to roll the credits on the Republic of Hungary. Heti Világgazdaság reports on the letter it has received from the office of European Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights, Viviane Reding. The letter points out that the Commission can initiate “a procedure for violation of EU law” against Hungary. It also says:
...the Commission can make use of all of the available tools to guarantee fundamental rights and European values in Hungary. As a matter of principle, we do not comment on the constitutions of member states, but legislation in all countries [that are members of the EU] must comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Commission will use every means to ensure that the values of the charter apply in Hungary.
Criticism of the new constitution is even starting to become awkward for pro-government newspapers in the country. Conservative daily Magyar Nemzet notes that the government is now caught in “crossfire” from European institutions and partners, and also from the United States and the International Monetary Fund:
We have reached a point where this is no longer a joke or a mere international plot, and it is no time for “sulking”. Even if the criticism voiced by European politicians and the European media is at times unfair, and at times completely ridiculous, we no longer have a choice. It no longer makes sense to cite the results that have been achieved by the government, because the situation is much more serious. We cannot avoid engaging in a process of far reaching self-criticism, because we urgently need to escape from this crossfire.
The gravity of the situation is such that Budapest’s attitude to foreign criticism appears to have changed, remarks HVG, which claims that “the government is not insisting on any pre-conditions and is ready to hold talks with the IMF and the European Commission.” Time is running out, all the more because the financial crisis that has struck Hungary has begun to spread to neighbouring countries. România libera notes that “Viktor Orbán’s blackmail could destablise Eastern Europe.” And if Hungary is allowed to go bankrupt, “shock waves will spread”. In Prague for example, Hospodářské noviny points out that the Czech crown, which has declined by 8% againt the euro over the past year, is being “dragged down by the [Hungarian] forint.”