European People’s Party chaos — Viktor Orbán claims he made no promise on CEU law

The European People’s Party, which is rapidly losing its remaining credibility, is getting a first-hand taste of how Prime Minister Viktor Orbán operates. After the EPP published a strongly worded statement Saturday morning, in which it claimed that the EPP presidium “asked Fidesz and the Hungarian authorities to take all necessary steps to comply with the Commission’s request” about amending legislation against Central European University, and added that “Prime Minister Orban has reassured the EPP that Hungary will act accordingly,” it turns out that Mr. Orbán feels he made no such promise at all.

Mere hours after being “summoned” by the EPP leadership to explain his government’s rabidly anti-European billboard campaign and “national consultation,” as well as the law pertaining to higher education and proposed punitive legislation against NGOs, Mr. Orbán had the following to say:

“[The issue of] Central European University, that is to say the university of George Soros, which is called Central European University, is proceeding at its own legal pace. On this, no agreement has been reached. At this moment, there is a legal discussion. We always believed that if someone does not like something, then one must choose legal means to resolve the dispute. This is a legal issue, Hungary and the Commission will discuss this in the coming months. The legal dispute will have an end result, and this end result will be implemented.”

Viktor Orbán in Brussels on Saturday, heading into the EPP meeting. Photo: MTI.

The CEU does not have “months” and the Commission demanded that Hungary make the necessary amendments within one month. Mr. Orbán then took personal credit for the fact that the Hungarian public is strongly pro-EU, noting that his government’s efforts (a government which has spent two years plastering the country in anti-EU billboards) have increased support for the EU.

“Support for EU membership is highest in Hungary. I believe that this result includes the work of the Hungarian government. We are a pro-European government, but we are not willing to change our opinion that in many regards, the Union does not function well and must be reformed,” noted Mr. Orbán–and with a straight face, one might add.

Within hours of the EPP’s demand that Mr. Orbán end his anti-EU propaganda campaign, the government launched a brand new anti-EU television ad. 

The European People’s Party is in denial. It is trying to reassure itself that at least Viktor’s Orbán’s regime is not as terrible as the Law and Justice party government in Poland, which is aligned with an openly eurosceptic group in the European Parliament, namely the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe. And the European People’s Party is either so naive or so unprincipled as to believe, or pretend, that dialogue is possible and fruitful with the Orbán regime. It is not and it never has been. Every group–political or socio-cultural–that has decided to engage in dialogue with the Orbán regime has been burned and humiliated, usually sooner rather than later. The European People’s Party may be learning this lesson as we speak. But the chance that this treatment by Fidesz will be enough to eject the Hungarian regime from its ranks remains a distant possibility. Mr. Orbán will be a winner in the eyes of his 2 million-strong core voting base, and that is all he needs to be re-elected in 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *