- Slides: 11
Broken Democracy within the EU: The Case of Hungary András Bozóki Professor of Political Science, Central European University Republikon conference, Budapest, June 11. 2015.
Hungary in the European Union, 2010 -15. • International context: • Economic context: • Elections: • Election result: • Government: • Opposition: • Direction of change: membership in the European Union & NATO global economic crisis & its aftermath free and fair (2010) free and unfair (2014) absolute majority (2010) relative m. (2014) dominant party with 2/3 rd of seats fragmented left, emerging far right hollowing out stable democracy from inside: farewell to liberal democracy
The conceptual pillars of the Orbán regime • centralized power: personalization, state media, state-party • nationalist populism: homogenized concept of nation with double standards • social exclusion: lower classes, unemployed, the Roma, refugees, and disabled people • change of the elites: anti-communism, anti-liberalism, antiintellectualism • primacy of power politics: opportunism, end-of-ideology • revolutionary conditions: the will of the people to justify the suspension of the rule of law
Legal certainty, constitutionalism • • • Anti-constitutional coup d’état Fundamental Law discussed in two weeks, accepted by Fidesz only Fundamental Law modified several times to marginalize the Const. Court Private pension funds nationalized (aggressive takeover by the state) Trade union rights fundamentally restricted Referendums – near to impossible Private property restricted De facto governing by decrees (puppet Parliament) Government control of the media (state media + Media Authority)
Public scrutiny, justice • Tax Office used politically: against opposition and business people • Attorney general, a former Fidesz MP, uses his powers selectively • Homelessness criminalized • Right to protest often curtailed in practice • Reliance of para-military units & football hooligans against protesters • Arbitrary use of the Counter-terror Center (TEK) • Selective treatment of indebted people • No govt willingness/capacity to defend equal rights (Roma!) • De facto elimination of social security (no aid, unemployment benefit)
Equality under the law • Biased electoral law, excessive gerrymandering, differentiation among Hungarians living outside the borders (“Trianon Hungarians” v others) • Uneven playing field in the elections • President of the Republic not neutral, clearly biased towards Fidesz • Government campaigns against foreign owned banks, against foreign investors and their businesses • Selective taxation of the media (to punish critical voices) • Political dis/approval of religions by Parliament • Campaign against migrants, refugees, (named as economic migrants)
Judicial independence • Gov’t intervention to the Constitutional Court (12 15 members, chairman of CC elected by Parliament, CC filled with former Fidesz politicians and far right figures) • CC cannot refer to its previous decisions as precedents (1990 -2010) • Supreme Court under the control of Prime Minister’s family friend • Judges over 62 years old forced to retire • Illegal removal of an ombudsman, restructuring the office afterwards • Government pressure on the judiciary (explicit political expectations)
Democracy without Rule of Law? • What is the meaning of democracy if it leaves the rule of law behind? • Institutions vs „the people” • Discriminative legalism, undermining checks and balances • Extreme centralization: key positions to the cronies of Prime Minister • Restrictions of independent institutions (unions, churches, NGOs) • Limits on the freedom of press and religious freedoms • Predatory state: leaders are political & economic enterpreneurs who occupied the state from inside and hollowed out democracy
Orban’s novelty: Using high Western linkage to lower democracy at home • Literature suggests that high Western linkage and leverage and medium-level domestic organizational capacity are favorable to democratization and to maintain democracy • However, the case of Hungary suggests a counter-intuitive finding. • High Western linkage (EU funds) used to finance an increasingly anti. Western, competitive authoritarian regime • Relatively low external vulnerability of the regime • Domestic organizational capacity: mafia state controls resources • EU is used as a permanent resource to implement anti-EU policies
Conclusion: Hybrid regime within the EU? • “Eastern opening”: illiberal states presented as models for Hungary (Russia, China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, etc. ) • Culture and education are politically homogenized: war against Western multi-culturalism, cultural diversity, feminism, minority rights • Ethnocentrism and xenophobia -- despite open borders • High linkage with the West used by Orbán to broaden his space for political maneouvre: EU funds used for strengthening Orbán’s oligarchs • The EU does not sanction non-democratic policies of a member state effectively (Copenhagen Criteria, Lisbon Treaty, EC, EP) • Paradoxically, it is the EU that sponsors the economic stability of a regime which disrespects the European values • The Hungarian problem is not an isolated one: It is a European problem.
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