The European Parliament has just made it clear that after years of rule by Viktor Orban’s regime, Hungary is no longer a democracy, but a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”, where fundamental rights and principles are under threat.
The European Secularist Network has always warned against the risks to democracy and fundamental rights posed by nationalist leaders and the far right. We have warned about the liberticidal excesses of the Hungarian government on many occasions.
democratic backsliding also caused by inaction
As Parliament has pointed out, the installation of an authoritarian regime within the European Union itself has been made possible by years of inaction and neglect by the European institutions. In particular, the Council, i.e. the governments of the Member States, failed to react to the successive stages of destruction of the rule of law.
This is an important lesson to be learned: the transition from democracy to authoritarian rule did not happen overnight, in a brutal manner, but through a succession of measures, first and foremost the takeover of the courts by the executive. The suppression of the independence of the judiciary made it possible for the ruling clan to take control of the state apparatus, and nepotism, vexatious measures against minorities, persecution of the independent media, closure of the Central European University…
the eu needs effective tools against authoritarianism
This being the case, the European Parliament’s vote raises questions. Proclaiming that the Union includes a State that is no longer democratic is necessary, but is it sufficient to support the Hungarian democratic opposition? Is it enough to prevent other governments of Member States from departing from the principles of the rule of law and democracy?
But it is also the whole external credibility of the European Union that would be undermined. How can we claim to defend and promote democracy and fundamental rights in the rest of the world if we are incapable of ensuring that these elements are respected at home?
It is high time that the Union equipped itself to face up to authoritarian and liberticidal drifts. This is all the more essential at a time when extreme right-wing parties are reaching the gates of power or participating in power in several European countries.