As April 3, the date of Hungary’s upcoming parliamentary elections (and the referendum on child protection) approaches, we can see our critics are getting busy, particularly the ones funded by billionaire financier George Soros, dredging up some of their favorite, groundless accusations about Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán and his government.
In a report entitled “A Façade of Legality: COVID-19 and the Exploitation of Emergency Powers in Hungary,” the International Commission of Jurists, an organization of “eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world” – and funded by Open Society – takes issue with our reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, namely the Coronavirus Protection Act.
For 30 long pages, the report discusses how “emergency powers continue to be abused in Hungary to fulfil the government’s political objectives and undermine rule of law.” Gosh. Sounds concerning.
It’s only that these guys are not one, but two years late to the party. It’s 2022! The law was passed in 2020, and the left-liberal hysteria around it – which was exposed as groundless – went quiet many moons ago. What took them so long?
If they spent all this time looking for ammunition, then, well, they didn’t do a very good job because most of their claims have already been refuted several times on this blog and elsewhere.
Let’s get something straight. The Coronavirus Protection Act definitely did not push Hungary into “authoritarian disarray.” On the contrary, it served the country well. It enabled the government to take swift action, closing borders, enacting movement restrictions, slowing the spread of the disease, and providing our national healthcare system and healthcare workers with the equipment necessary to treat all those who require care. Without it, arguably, Hungary would be in a much worse state than it is today. And the government of Hungary was among the first in Europe to begin relaxing restrictions.
But wait a second, there’s more.
In another report, this time from the liberal think-tank Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), author R. Daniel Kelemen writes that “Europe’s authoritarian cancer” was born in Budapest in the “early 2010s.” Don’t you worry, Kelemen goes on to prescribe a course of “rapid, intensive treatment” for Hungary.
Making repeated references to world-class “Hungary experts” like Kim Lane Scheppele and the V-Dem Institute, Kelemen suggests that the EU must blackmail “renegade” EU member states, like Hungary and Poland, of course, into falling in line on “rule of law.” At the same time, he recommends that the European Commission return to “its traditional role as the Guardian of the Treaties.”
That would be a good idea, one we would also like to see, instead of the EC acting as an increasingly political body that renounces all of our achievements and focuses only on the areas where we’re in disagreement. Like migration, family policy, child protection.
Oh, regarding child protection: FEPS will be organizing a hybrid conference on Friday, coincidentally one day before the official campaign season kicks off in Hungary, entitled “Child guarantee in Hungary - Progressives together for a European Child Union.” The conference will feature a list of speakers from the Hungarian opposition, including Péter Márki-Zay, Klára Dobrev and Gergely Karácsony.
Speakers from the government’s side? None.