Der Spiegel – Harsh Criticism For Orbán : ‘Take Away Hungary’s European Council Vote’ – 18 March 2013

Anti-government protesters rally in Budapest on March 17, 2013, about a week after Viktor Orbán's government pushed through a package of controversial constitutional changes. Photo : REUTERS

Anti-government protesters rally in Budapest on March 17, 2013, about a week after Viktor Orbán’s government pushed through a package of controversial constitutional changes.

After the Iron Curtain came down, István Hegedüs, 55, was a parliamentarian for Hungary’s conservative Fidesz party, which was in the opposition at the time. But now he is fiercely critical of the party’s leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and his move to consolidate power. Europe must react, he tells SPIEGEL.

SPIEGEL: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has used his two-thirds majority in parliament to pass constitutional amendments that disempower the constitutional court. Is democracy in the country threatened?

Hegedüs: It was a black day for Hungarian democracy. The constitutional court will no longer be allowed to review the content of standards and laws, but just rule on whether they were formally passed correctly. With this, an important supervisory body has been suppressed. Not just opposition members, but also conservative politicians like former President László Sólyom, are protesting this.SPIEGEL: Does Orbán want to introduce one-party rule in Hungary?

Hegedüs: Orbán judges the post-communist era very negatively. He believes that the old insiders are still governing. His “Orbán Revolution” aims to secure long-term power for his conservative party Fidesz, even if they lose the next election in 2014. Additionally, he is filling every central position with his people, and extended the terms for the state’s most important posts. The president of the media authority, for instance, was appointed for nine years.

SPIEGEL: Does the public support him in these changes?

Hegedüs: I think Orbán has scared off half of those who voted for him in 2010. His policies are not successful, and Hungary’s economy contracted last year by almost two percent. Moreover, Hungarians don’t appreciate that he has driven their country into isolation within the European Union.SPIEGEL: What can Brussels do to save Hungarian democracy?

Hegedüs: EU member states should react quickly and clearly. They must precisely analyze the changes to the constitution, and could then take away the right to vote in the European Council from Orbán’s government. That would be a symbolic measure that, unlike economic sanctions, would not hurt the people.

SPIEGEL/kla

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