By conventional standards, Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, “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 Orbán, 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.
Orbán 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. Orbán “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.”