The media would be neutered because if the ruling elite did not like what was reported, they could claim ‘offence’ and use a raft of measures to effectively shut down the paper or station carrying it. In addition, bloggers would have to register with the state and any videos, personal posts or tweets would be subject to a ‘balanced information’ requirement which enabled a newly formed Media Council to issue heavy fines for anyone expressing a subjective opinion.
Despite the internal outcry and the European Union’s insistance that Hungary follows EU law on media freedom, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said earlier this week:
‘The government has beaten back this attack,’ (in reference to criticism from the EU commission). ‘We do not accept any countries or country groupings as our superiors. Brussels is not Moscow,’ (in reference to the Soviet era).
It was a strong and unambiguous statement. Could it be that an elected national government, however dictatorial and wrongheaded, was daring to tell the EU to stay out of its affairs? Was this a sign of growing rebelliousness among member states? The challenge to Brussels was clear.
In the event it may as well have been David Cameron making that comment instead of Viktor Orlan. For just several dozen hours on, we learn that Hungary has backed down. Bloggers will no longer have to register and the ‘balanced information’ requirement has been dropped. And the provision restricting media content on the basis of not ‘causing offence’ to individuals, minorities or majorities is being narrowed down to not ‘discriminating’ against any group or not inciting to hatred.
Hungarians have just been given a clear demonstration of who holds power and governs their country – and it isn’t the Orlan administration or anyone they voted for.
For all the tough words and anger at the interference of Brussels (all be it on the subject of a dangerous attempt to stifle free speech and dissent) the elected government in Budapest has bowed before their EU master. For Orlan, read Cameron. Once the theatric posturing has been acted out and the tough talk has been delivered to the domestic audience to give the impression of strength, the outcome is always an EU victory. This is because these national leaders are Europhile lackeys.
And so it will continue to be until a national government holds itself completely sovereign, says ‘no’ to the EU and refuses to accept any and all instruction, coercion or strong arming from Brussels. Power needs to be taken because it is never freely relinquished by a person or entity that wishes to retain it.