Brussels stands up to Orbán

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán suffers a humiliation at the hands of the European Parliament.


Viktor Orbn: under no threat
(Image credit: 2018 Getty Images)

By conventional standards, Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orbn, "suffered a humiliation" at the European Parliament last week, says Michael Peel in the Financial Times. MEPs voted by 448 to 197 to censure Budapest over breaches of EU rules and values.

Yet the vote is "more of a blow to the premier's pride than his position". Hungary is unlikely to be stripped of its voting rights, as this needs unanimity among other EU members. And domestically, the vote may further boost his image "as the scourge of pro-migration European elites".

By voting to censure Orbn, the parliament is demonstrating "that its technocratic arrogance has now reached such dizzy heights that it presumes the moral authority to punish nation states for doing what their own people have asked them to do", says Brendan O'Neill in The Spectator.

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Orbn and his party were "freely and fairly elected", winning more than 49% of the vote this year. Such "bully-boy" tactics simply underline that "the right of people to determine the destiny of their nation is one of the great causes of our time".

Nonsense, says Phillip Collins in The Times. Orbn "stands in defiance of the rule of law and respect for human rights". He "has made it a criminal offence for lawyers to help asylum seekers", while "critical judges have been replaced in a torrent of vicious rhetoric".

Emerging evidence of "fake voter registration, forged polling-station voting records and intimidation of ballot officials" tarnishes his election victory. "If a country starts to slide away from democracy it is not an intrusion into national affairs for the EU to state its opposition."

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

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