Today’s Lesson: Don’t Change the constitution Unless A Rugged Dictator, the European Union Will Sue You!
A Hungarian coup worthy of Putin By Philip Stephens “You could say that Europe has crises enough without worrying too much about a Hungarian dissident turned petty tyrant. Hungary, after all, is not even a member of the euro. To overlook Viktor Orban’s journey from anti-communist progressive to populist xenophobe (Jews and Gypsies according to Mark Feldman, see “Demolition of Democracy, the NYT, dec 22, 2011) would, however, be to repeat a mistake made about Greece. The troubles of Europe’s small powers can be a harbinger of bigger dangers around the corner. Hungary’s prime minister presents a reminder – should anyone on this continent need one – of the familiar trajectory from economic chaos to political authoritarianism. ” Orban and his clique are dangerous men, especially his advisor, Attila Gruber, who is trying to shut up all dissenting voices, and menaces writers like myself.
Furthermore, this opportunist goes even farther, easily manipulating a debilitated Parliament:
The European Union has had two grand projects since the fall of the Berlin Wall: the single currency and the advance of democracy eastwards. The euro is now in serious trouble. Mr Orban sends a powerful message about the perils facing democracy. This week saw the introduction of Mr Orban’s new constitution. Suffused with ethnic nationalism, it reeks of an ambition for one-party rule. It promises repression of personal freedoms within Hungary and, through an extension of citizenship to Hungarian minorities elsewhere, threatens instability in ethnically-diverse neighbours. The constitution has to be seen alongside a slew of new basic laws and the gerrymandering of the electoral system. Together, they bestow inordinate power on the ruling Fidesz party. The prime minister can claim to have won the 2010 election fairly. Now he is deploying a two-thirds majority in parliament to deny opponents the same possibility. The authority of the courts has been limited and the judiciary subjected to closer political supervision. The constitution asserts state control over personal conscience and faith. Abortion and same-sex marriages are outlawed and recognised religions limited. Paradoxically for a politician so visceral in his hostility to post-Soviet Russia, Mr Orban’s version of democracy is one that would surely win plaudits from Vladimir Putin. Much as in Mr Putin’s Russia, the rule of law is subordinated to the entrenchment of one-party rule. As in Russia, Hungarians can still vote; citizens can protest and privately owned media can criticise Mr Orban. But this is faux democracy. State institutions, the courts and the national broadcaster are firmly in Fidesz hands. Mr Orban’s supporters point to the economic chaos inherited from previous socialist administrations, which mixed manifest incompetence with corruption. But the prime minister has reached beyond any reasonable effort to create a stable backdrop for recovery. Autocrats do not draw legitimacy from the sins of democratic predecessors. Mr Orban is a gifted politician. Ivan Krastev, the chairman of the Sofia-based Centre for Liberal Strategies and a leading central European scholar, describes him not so much as an ideologue as a “radical opportunist”. In moving from left to right across the political spectrum, Mr Orban has grabbed the chance to tap into Hungarian nationalism at a moment of crisis. Some would-be autocrats, Mr Krastev notes, play to people’s hopes and aspirations. He mentions Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in this respect. Others prefer to harness fear and prejudice. Mr Orban belongs to this second category. A go-it-alone economic strategy – breaking loose from the EU and International Monetary Fund – has been drawn from the same nationalist playbook. As things have turned out, his economic prescription has failed. Tax cuts have not brought down Hungary’s debt and deficits. Government bonds have junk status. Foreign investors can no longer rely on the rule of law. For all Mr Orban’s blustering about negotiating with the IMF on his terms, Hungary is heading towards bankruptcy. None of this makes Fidesz less dangerous. Centrist opposition parties have gained little from Mr Orban’s waning popularity. The ultra-right Jobbik party, with which Mr Orban has lately been flirting, has seen its support grow. This week’s protests in Budapest, which saw many tens of thousands rally against the constitution, may have marked a change in this political dynamic. For the first time disparate opposition parties and civil society groups showed a united front. The protesters, though, need leadership at home and support from abroad. If the west can call for political freedom in the Maghreb – or, for that matter, Belarus – it can surely do likewise in central Europe. So far the response has been muted. True, the European Commission has said that future financial help will be conditional on the restoration of central bank independence. Hillary Clinton has voiced US misgivings about threats to individual freedoms. Tut-tutting is not enough, however. A better start would be for other EU leaders to make public their dismay. Democracy is at the heart of Hungary’s bargain with the rest of the EU. Where are the tough statements from Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron? A second step would see Hungarian ministers shunned at EU meetings in Brussels. There is a fine line to be negotiated. The quarrel is with Mr Orban not the Hungarian people. But it should not be beyond the wit of European leaders to make clear this distinction. Greece should have served as a warning signal for the eurozone. Hungary is now shining a light on the political risks of economic failure. The nationalist right is on the rise across much of Europe – from the “True Finns” to the Dutch Freedom party and France’s National Front. Countries with weaker, democratic traditions are especially vulnerable. Europe should know by now the perils of contagion.” RIGHT?! A Jobik is dangerous!
Block outside noise, and find your center!
See also: The European Union versus Viktor Orban
We are in the public domain. Everything is debatable. I understand that, and I can deal with it. The question is: Who is this pig?
2 ARTICLES & MORE SOURCES on Eu VS Hungary, in the Wall Street Journal, in yesterday’s Post here.
Number Two News Today:
E-mail from The White House Friday, January 20, 2012
Watch the State of the Union with Us
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To make sure you’re getting the most out of the speech, we’re also putting together an enhanced version of the State of the Union that you’ll be able to watch as President Obama speaks. The enhanced version will be available at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU so be sure to tune in Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.
As the President outlines his goals for 2012, we’ll pull out key facts and important data — and go deeper to give you additional information.
This speech will be a big moment, and we hope you’ll watch it with us. Learn more from David Plouffe, and don’t forget to tune in Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Dee Dee is right — we can break records this year. We can elect more women to Congress than ever before, but only if we have record-breaking support from our EMILY’s List members.
One thing is clear: 2012 is an all-hands-on-deck year. If you’re thinking that you can let others lead the way this year, believe me: we need you.
Click here to become an EMILY’s List member today, so we can break records in 2012 and elect more women to Congress than we ever have before!
Let’s do this hard work together and take our country back from the Tea Party extremists. They’re fighting for a narrow ideology that would move our country backwards. With our line-up of superstar candidates and the support of all of you, we can stop them. Together we can make 2012 the new Year of the Woman.
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All the best,
Dr Olga Lazin
Dear feminist friends__
I took the podium in the White House Briefing Room as the first woman to ever hold the job. It’s not always easy being first, but you know what made a huge difference? I wasn’t alone: together, we’d just elected record-shattering numbers of women to Congress and truly changed the face of leadership in Washington.
Are you ready to do it again? With the support of the EMILY’s List community, we could break the records we set 20 years ago, elect more women to the House and Senate than ever before, and make 2012 the Year of the Woman all over again.
But to do that, we need to break another record, and make sure that EMILY’s List has more members in 2012 than ever before. It’s critical to join EMILY’s List right now, so that they have the resources they need to make sure there are more powerful women speaking out for us in the halls of Congress.
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Of course, this is about more than just breaking records. It’s about taking back the House from the Tea Party hostages who call themselves Republicans — and about adding incredible women leaders to our ranks. We’ve made progress in 2011 with the victories of Janice Hahn and Kathy Hochul, and we’ve got another one coming in just a couple weeks with Suzanne Bonamici. Then we’ll be just 25 seats away from taking back the House.
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EMILY’s List is out in front, helping make history in 2012. They’ve got more experience and more expertise than anyone in the business. I’m with them, as we fight to take back the House and hold the Senate. Won’t you be there too?
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It is going to take a shared commitment from all of us to win big in 2012. There’s no better way to get started than by joining EMILY’s List today. Thank you for all you do.
Dr Olga Magdalena Lazin
1. This Is the year of the Woman
2. Do you believe what you see? I have deposed my papers for HU citizenship?
3. European Commission President José Mañuel Barroso admonished Viktor Orban, or else…
4. Wall Street is a fixed horse race!
Invitation to the White House: