Friday 21 January 2011

Constitution, democracy and rule of law: Hungary is more than a diversion for Europe

Despite prime minister Viktor Orban spoiling for a fight against critics of his government agenda, the blog of the Hungarian presidency of the EU Council understandably wants to calm down the heated debate diverting attention from the ”big issues” the EU is facing.

I really want the European Union to create the means to overcome the pressing economic challenges, but the problems in Hungary sap the very foundations of the European construction work, the health of the constitutional order, the democratic system and the rule of law.

My 19 January 2011 blog post mentioned the background picture by Jeremy Druker and published by the International Relations and Security Network (ISN) of not only the repressive Hungarian media law, but other controversial legislation on its way:

Hungary's Media Law – Tip of the Iceberg (18 January 2011).

Druker's quote of professor and OSCE observer Miklos Haratszi revealed problems well beyond the scope of one legislative act:

Still, whatever the outrage in the West, few see that the media package is just the tip of the iceberg of Orban's very far-reaching illiberal, counter-revolution.

Messages from some European leaders seem to fall on deaf ears: PM Viktor Orban wants to fight against free media in Hungary (20 January 2011).


Max Steinbeis on Verfassungsblog now draws attention to the seriousness of the situation in Hungary: Verfassungs-Barbarei in Budapest (20 January 2011).

Steinbeis refers to a discussion arranged by the Law and Society Institute Berlin (LSI Berlin), at the Humboldt University: The Hungarian Constitutional Crisis and European Constitutional Standards. To this, he adds his own reflections, which deserve attentive reading in every capital of the European Union, and more.

These are no mere diversions. Fundamental issues are at stake, not only for Hungary, but for Europe.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Writing for (y)EU is the interesting and inspiring blog of the web team of the European Parliament.

P.S. 2: In addition to my blogs in English, Finnish and Swedish, you can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter @RalfGrahn.

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