László Rajk – Fidesz aims to hold onto power
10 June 2011
Now associate professor at the University of Theater and Film in Budapest where he teaches film, architect and designer László Rajk was one of the main dissidents under the Hungarian Communist regime in the 70s and 80s. Son of László Rajk, executed in 1949 during the great trials, he joined the Democratic Opposition in 1975 and in 1981 was one of the founders of the underground samizdat AB Publishing House. Also one of the founders of the Alliance of Free Democrats in 1988, he served six years in Parliament after the free elections of 1990. Betwen 2004 and 2010 he was member of the Executive Board of the Hungarian National television Public Fund.
Here he explains for Presseurop the meaning of the controversial policies of the Hungarian conservative government led by Viktor Orbán.
How would do you define the political project of Fidesz, the governing party?
First I have to say their success is amazing. The 2010 general election was an absolutley correct election, with no fraud. They really got 53% of the votes which, because of the Hungarian electoral system, means two thirds of the Parliament. No one can discuss this.
Their objective is to keep power. The aim of their measures, including constitutional reform or the media law is to protect themselves from checks and balances : limitation of the competence of the Constitutionnal court, nomination of the highest prosecutor so that they can control prosecutions. It has not yet happened but I’m sure it will in September : the judges of the highest court. All these 3 counterbalances to the executive power are dominated by the government. This means they can pass all kind of laws stabilising their power.
I’ll take an example, the budget. They made 3 steps, which separately could be ...
1st step : they’ve passed a law saying that if the budget is not approved before March, the President can dissolve Parliament. You don’t get suspicious because of that.
2nd step : they’ve created a budget commission that has a veto right even if Parliament accepts the budget. Again, it seems a counter balance of the Parliamentary majority.
Finally : they changed the budget commission. Which means – this is a hypothesis – that if next year, Fidesz is out of power and that a new governement is formed and tries to make a budget, the budget commission can veto the budget all the time, and then the President can say : “Sorry guys, there’s a new election”. Of course the President was elected by them. So it’s clear this one thing is enough to overcome the next government even if Fidesz lose the election. This is what I mean by “stabilizing”.
Is this way of governing a national problem or a problem for Europe?
If you take all the details of different things like the Constitution or the media law, it could be very dangerous because this remains within the European frame. In the Union, there is only one similar exemple: Italy. But in Hungary it is more visible because it’s happening much faster.
For instance, Hungary doesn’t have a blasphemy law, so it seems to respect the guidelines of the European Commission. But the media is under such centralized monitoring that there is no need for a blasphemy law. It’s the same with hate speech regulations, a very touchy topic in the EU.
Do you think the EU and the member states have been critical enough and put enough pressure on the Orban government?
Hungary not like Italy, it has been criticised very much. The Venice commission criticised the Constitution. The International Press Institute and the OECD criticised the media law. The UNHCR criticised the Roma policy. And it’s still going on with the Constitution. I don’t think anyone could claim we needed more criticism. Do not forget that what’s happening in Hungary took place during all the North Africa events and it’s a miracle that people are paying attention to what is going on there. I think that is because Hungary is in Europe. After Italy people are beginning to be scared it could happen again in another country. And I think they are right.