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Debates Forum

  1. 02 Jan '12 11:56
    An editorial from this morning's Times (can't paste in the link as it's subscribers only):

    "The new constitution which took effect in Hungary yesterday is an extraordinary affront to basic liberties. It vastly increases the powers of the ruling party, reimposes state control on the central bank, limits the independence of the courts, politicises the judiciary, holds the Opposition criminally responsible for the former Communist Party's misdeeds, gives a three-man government cabal the power to veto any budget, subverts the sovereignty of its neighbours by allowing their Hungarian minorities to vote in Hungarian elections, and, most disgracefully, attempts to reimpose state regulation of religion by reducing the number of acknowledged faiths and sects from 300 to 14 while denying any official place in society for Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu congregations unless they have operated in Hungary for at least twenty years.

    The new constitution underpins the populist, nationalist ideology that the formerly liberal party Fidesz now espouses. It insists that God and Christianity hold the country together, renames "the Republic of Hungary" simply "Hungary", states that life begins at conception and that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. And since these provisions are now enshrined in the constitution, no move towards legalised abortion or same-sex marriage is likely to muster the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to overturn the provisions. Even the adoption of the euro is made more difficult, as the constitution specifies the forint as legal tender.

    US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is one of several powerful voices in the West who have expressed alarm at the threats to democracy, especially the new restrictions on religion. For the past eight months, since parliament - where Fidesz has a huge majority - approved the constitution, the European Union has warned Budapest not to reimpose state controls on the central bank. But Viktor Orban, the increasingly autocratic Prime Minister, has denounced any "outside interference", and gone ahead with measures that subordinate the bank to the ruling party and contradict a prerequisite of any future euro membership.

    Even more ominously, the interference in the justice system, including the dismissal of the former chief judge, a government right to choose which court should hear a case, and a new state body to supervise the judicial system, return Hungary to the monopoly of power by the ruling party under which it suffered for more than 40 years.

    All this is incompatible with EU membership. This must be made bluntly plain to the new autocrats in Budapest. Hungary is currently demanding 20 billion euros in emergency EU help for its struggling economy. Not a cent should be paid while this disgraceful constitution remains in force."

    On the basis of this constitution, should Hungary be denied EU funding? Indeed, should Hungary even be expelled from the EU?
  2. Donation rwingettonline
    Ming the Merciless
    02 Jan '12 12:43
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    An editorial from this morning's Times (can't paste in the link as it's subscribers only):

    "The new constitution which took effect in Hungary yesterday is an extraordinary affront to basic liberties. It vastly increases the powers of the ruling party, reimposes state control on the central bank, limits the independence of the courts, politicises the jud ...[text shortened]... d Hungary be denied EU funding? Indeed, should Hungary even be expelled from the EU?
    You seem to assume that EU membership is the highest aspiration that any nation can have. That's been working out so well for certain countries lately that I'm surprised they're not all leaving in droves. We all know that the EU does such a wonderful job protecting democracy as it subordinates its members democratic institutions to the control of unelected bank officials. The new constitution may be rotten document, but if it releases Hungary from the vassalage of the EU bankers then it will have done at least one thing right.
  3. 02 Jan '12 13:48
    Originally posted by rwingett
    You seem to assume that EU membership is the highest aspiration that any nation can have.
    I think so too. Norway, Schweiz, and Island are exceptions. Greenland was accepted to leave EU.

    Most of the other countries in Europe have applied fo a membership, some are in negotiations, some have been rejected, some have been seen favourably if some conditions are met.

    Yes, I think so too.
  4. 02 Jan '12 15:37
    Originally posted by rwingett
    You seem to assume that EU membership is the highest aspiration that any nation can have. That's been working out so well for certain countries lately that I'm surprised they're not all leaving in droves. We all know that the EU does such a wonderful job protecting democracy as it subordinates its members democratic institutions to the control of une ...[text shortened]... Hungary from the vassalage of the EU bankers then it will have done at least one thing right.
    I don't assume it, though the article does. Personally I don't see that Hungary should be in any hurry to join the euro (though enshrining the forint as national currency may be dangerously inflexible); and I'm not sure that offering the right to vote to Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries really undermines the sovereignty of those neighbours (since their votes in Hungarian elections will have no effect on the outcome of, say, Romanian elections).

    Nevertheless, it is clear that a number of provisions in this constitution are an affront to what are generally agreed to be shared European values. And Hungary wants EU money. Should it still get that money if it maintains its new authoritarian course?
  5. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    02 Jan '12 15:53
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    An editorial from this morning's Times (can't paste in the link as it's subscribers only):

    "The new constitution which took effect in Hungary yesterday is an extraordinary affront to basic liberties. It vastly increases the powers of the ruling party, reimposes state control on the central bank, limits the independence of the courts, politicises the jud ...[text shortened]... d Hungary be denied EU funding? Indeed, should Hungary even be expelled from the EU?
    Populism combined with nationalism.

    Left-ish economic policies but with militancy against the Communists.

    Rules with racist overtones.

    Authoritarian government with centralized power and no independent judiciary.




    Hmmmmmm...


    Where have we seen this before in central Europe?
  6. Donation rwingettonline
    Ming the Merciless
    02 Jan '12 16:33
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    I don't assume it, though the article does. Personally I don't see that Hungary should be in any hurry to join the euro (though enshrining the forint as national currency may be dangerously inflexible); and I'm not sure that offering the right to vote to Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries really undermines the sovereignty of those neighbours (s ...[text shortened]... wants EU money. Should it still get that money if it maintains its new authoritarian course?
    Hungary should shun the EU's thirty pieces of silver and exempt itself from being dictated to by a clique of unelected bankers.
  7. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    02 Jan '12 16:59
    Originally posted by sh76
    Populism combined with nationalism.

    Left-ish economic policies but with militancy against the Communists.

    Rules with racist overtones.

    Authoritarian government with centralized power and no independent judiciary.




    Hmmmmmm...


    Where have we seen this before in central Europe?
    Guess I missed the "Left-ish" economic policies ................................

    The model seems to be Franco's Spain given the central nature of religion in the ruling party's ideology.
  8. 02 Jan '12 17:03
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    The model seems to be Franco's Spain given the central nature of religion in the ruling party's ideology.
    Or Horthy's prewar Hungary! All in all, a sad trajectory for a party and Prime Minister who once seemed generally liberal.
  9. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    02 Jan '12 17:08 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    Populism combined with nationalism.

    Left-ish economic policies but with militancy against the Communists.

    Rules with racist overtones.

    Authoritarian government with centralized power and no independent judiciary.




    Hmmmmmm...


    Where have we seen this before in central Europe?
    From the CIA Factbook:


    Economy - overview:
    Hungary has made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, with a per capita income nearly two-thirds that of the EU-25 average. The private sector accounts for more than 80% of GDP. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms are widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment worth more than $70 billion. The government's austerity measures, imposed since late 2006, have reduced the budget deficit from over 9% of GDP in 2006 to 3.8% in 2010. Hungary's impending inability to service its short-term debt - brought on by the global financial crisis in late 2008 - led Budapest to obtain an IMF-arranged financial assistance package worth over $25 billion. The global economic downturn, declining exports, and low domestic consumption and fixed asset accumulation, dampened by government austerity measures, resulted in an economic contraction of 6.3% in 2009. The economy rebounded in 2010 with a big boost from exports, and growth of more than 2.5% is expected in 2011. Unemployment remained high, at more than 11%.

    http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/hungary/hungary_economy.html


    Reliance on foreign investment and domestic austerity measures doesn't sound very "Left-ish" to me.
  10. 02 Jan '12 18:18
    A worrying trend. Expulsion from the EU seems a bit harsh at this point, though that may be considered if democracy is further undermined.
  11. 02 Jan '12 18:30
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    A worrying trend. Expulsion from the EU seems a bit harsh at this point, though that may be considered if democracy is further undermined.
    So would you endorse withholding the funds from Budapest till they clean up their act?
  12. 02 Jan '12 18:45
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    So would you endorse withholding the funds from Budapest till they clean up their act?
    Sure, if there is support for such a measure in the European Parliament.
  13. Donation rwingettonline
    Ming the Merciless
    02 Jan '12 19:39
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    A worrying trend. Expulsion from the EU seems a bit harsh at this point, though that may be considered if democracy is further undermined.
    If democracy is further undermined? What do you think is happening within the EU now? Do you consider the rule of unelected bankers to be consistent with democracy? What you have there is the growing rule of technocrats and bankers that pays only the barest lip service to democracy while shunting aside any real democratic measures that defy their dictates. The more the EU grows, the more real democracy will suffer. The undemocratic financial institutions will decide everything while democracy limps along as a hackneyed catch phrase, bereft of any real meaning.
  14. 02 Jan '12 19:43
    Originally posted by rwingett
    If democracy is further undermined? What do you think is happening within the EU now? Do you consider the rule of unelected bankers to be consistent with democracy? What you have there is the growing rule of technocrats and bankers that pays only the barest lip service to democracy while shunting aside any real democratic measures that defy their dictates. ...[text shortened]... everything while democracy limps along as a hackneyed catch phrase, bereft of any real meaning.
    Unelected bankers? What are you talking about, Italy and Greece? Their prime ministers are not "unelected" - they have approval of their respective parliaments and have thus been elected indirectly.
  15. Donation rwingettonline
    Ming the Merciless
    02 Jan '12 19:59
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Unelected bankers? What are you talking about, Italy and Greece? Their prime ministers are not "unelected" - they have approval of their respective parliaments and have thus been elected indirectly.
    Elected indirectly. Well, isn't that just the epitome of democracy in action. You'll excuse me if I remain unimpressed.