End of democracy in Hungary?

A few days ago, the Hungarian Parliament gave full powers to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during a special session due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some people considered it as the end of a democratic regime in Hungary.

The virus, a perfect excuse

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán debated the situatio… | Flickr

The Hungarian Government, led by the Fidesz political party (far-right), took advantage of the Covid–19 critical situation to extend its powers. The figure of those powers being Viktor Orbán, of course. The national Parliament agreed to give him full powers for an illimited period. And only he can decide when it ends.

As the Parliament was involved, it may seem as totally legal and democratic. Or, on the other hand, it might be seen as a dictature or a perfectly-organised coup. For the past ten years and since he is Hungary’s leader, Mr. Orbán has never stopped provoking and trolling. The more antivoncentional he is, the more mediatised he is. And he sure knows how to deal with his image.

Since that vote, Hungary has no longer been a democracy according to Freedom House, an important international NGO. Is it then a dictature ? Not, really, Hungary has been categorized with a « hybrid regime ». That doesn’t mean much. But freedoom, liberties and human rights are at stakes

Viktor Orbán often referred his way of governing as « an illiberal democracy », as in Poland, where autoritarism and protectionism rule the country. It caused many conflicts with its neighbours and even more with the European Union. The coronavirus crisis concerned everyone and while the EU tried to be supportive, Orbán didn’t make any move until that happened.

A compromised future with Europe?

The relations between Viktor Orbán and Europe have been very tense lately. The Hungarian leader showed his disapproval of the EU political management. He put himself against the EU and made a remarkable alignement with far-right European and national parties in different EU countries. To justify the full powers, he even dared to say: that he has « similar powers to those of the French President in normal times ».

Many incidents between the EU and Orbán took place regarding the lack of democracy in Hungary. Democracy is one of the most important values in the EU. The country is scrutinized in particular by the EU Justice Commission. As well as Poland. Both the EU and Hungary have developed a complication relation. As well, the Council of Europe (out of the EU), showed its opposition to Orbán’s actions.

Will the EU strike back? As for now, a little response as been made by EU Commissionner for Justicce Didier Reynders. But all other countries are overwhelmed with the Covid-19. The Croatian presidency didn’t declare anything either. The EU already struggles to keep up. The Hungary case may not be a priority but is incompatible with the European values. As soon as the coronavirus is handled, the EU must deal with Hungary, even if it means its exit from it.

Even though, most European countries are on emergency States and maybe not fully democratic, we know that it is temporary. Will it be the same in Hungary?

Wassila ZOUAG