Political posturing and who is master in Hungary

Readers may be familiar with Hungary’s vicious assault on press freedom and the ability of citizen journalists to share their views.

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.

7 Responses to “Political posturing and who is master in Hungary”

  1. 1 Jim 17/02/2011 at 10:15 am

    I think in this case I’d be quite happy to be in the EU if I was a Hungarian citizen! I’m not exactly pro-EU, but in this case you can’t help but admit that the EU has sided with the people of Hungary against a dictatorial government.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 17/02/2011 at 10:25 am

    And what happens when this isn’t the case and the EU’s action is against the public interest and there is no democratic mechanism to oppose it?

  3. 3 PaulH 17/02/2011 at 10:51 am

    Hmmmm. I’m with Jim on this one AM.

    I see what you’re saying, but to most folk this will be a ‘well done EU!’ story.

  4. 4 Rob 17/02/2011 at 1:33 pm

    ‘well done EU!’? Maybe that was the whole idea behind this?

  5. 5 Jim 17/02/2011 at 2:00 pm

    @Autonomous Mind: well then we would have what euro-sceptics have been searching for for ages – a popular UK policy that is denied by the EU, which would crystallise anti-eu sentiment, hopefully forcing a vote of in or out.

    While the EU is profoundly anti democratic, and potentially despotic, there is no evidence (up to now) that it is anything other than pro-human rights and individual freedoms. If there were a ‘casus belli’ over the EU I doubt it would come to arms – they would accept the democratic will of a country to leave. To be honest they have no practical methods of preventing it. The EU army is a fig leaf only, and not suitable for real operations. Its a desk army.

  6. 6 Martin Brumby 17/02/2011 at 8:08 pm

    Before we all get too euphoric about this lonely instance when the EU ‘done good’, lets remember that even Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China or the Third Reich certainly got SOME things right. Perhaps by mistake?

    Obviously it would be insane to directly compare the EU to any of these three. But conditions then were different (and our ‘conditions’ are deteriorating daily!). And the pure incompetence, corruption and stupidity of the EU is well matched by 95% of the merry team in Westminster.

    I’ve visited Hungary many times and love the country (and the cooking!). But they certainly haven’t been very fortunate with their Government in the last 100 years. Maybe the best were Nagy Imre and (ironically) Kádár. Under Kádár’s regime they were rightly called the ‘happiest barracks in the (communist camp)’. (A masterpiece of faint praise!)

    And living, as we do, in a Loonocracy, we don’t have a lot to brag about.

  7. 7 Sam Schulman 18/02/2011 at 3:49 am

    Your correspondents are wrong. The EU is not unpredictably sometimes “the good guy”, and sometimes not. The EU decree on “human rights” is consistent. Those who find themselves living under its writ are to have a certain level of human rights. Orban wanted to Hungarians to have fewer rights. Forbidden. Other political leaders may want their country’s citizens to have more human rights – such as the right to freedom of speech. Equally forbidden.

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