A Hungarian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) leveled harsh criticism at the EU and its globalist allies for accusing Hungary, and by extension other, more conservative Central European nations, of “undermining democracy.”
In an interview with German newspaper Deutsche Welle, published this week, outspoken Hungarian MEP Gyorgy Schöpflin said that comparisons between Hungary and autocratic countries such as Russia and Turkey are false and politically motivated.
“They perform this virtue signaling in order to deflect attention from equivalent problems at home … this is an old rhetorical trick.”
“‘Undermining democracy’ is very much a question of what one means by ‘democracy’ — is it rule by the consent of the governed or domination by the values of the liberal elite, regardless of consent?” Schöpflin said.
Accusing Central European countries like Hungary, which resists mass migration and open borders, of being anti-democratic and illiberal is a favorite tactic of progressive globalists.
Less than two weeks ago, now-French President Emmanuel Macron accused both Hungary and Poland — both NATO members and EU member-states — of being anti-Democratic regimes in a roundabout attack on his then-opponent, Marine Le Pen.
“We all know who Le Pen’s allies are: the regimes of [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban, [Polish Law and Justice Party chairman Jaroslaw] Kaczynski, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Macron said. “These aren’t regimes with an open and free democracy. Every day they break many democratic freedoms.”
An April headline from The New York Times Editorial Board decried “Hungary’s Assault on Freedom.” A recent sub-headline in The Economist declared that “In Europe’s illiberal east, populist nationalism is alive and well,” while a 2016 article in the same magazine was titled, “Illiberal Central Europe: Big, Bad Visegrad.”
In 2016, the EU parliament — on two occasions — officially accused the Polish government of being anti-democratic. In September 2016 it issued a resolution saying that the Polish government’s “endanger[s] democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law in Poland.” A New York Times headline from April of this year described “Poland’s Anti-Democratic Drift.”
“Contrary to the widespread liberal narrative of ‘democratic backsliding’ in Central Europe, the institutional order in Hungary works well,” said Schöpflin. “The Constitutional Court regularly quashes draft laws passed by parliament, and the EU’s Justice Scoreboard places Hungary in the top third of EU member states,” he continued.
“As far as the media are concerned, even a casual sampling of what is published will show that there is very wide-ranging, often very harsh, criticism of the government, of Fidesz and of Orban personally,” Schöpflin said. “No journalist has been arrested, so parallels with Turkey or Russia are nonsense.”
Schöpflin also challenged the attacks on Hungary’s new education law targeting Soros’ Central European University, which critics charge is an assault on democratic freedoms. “Academic freedom is intact,” said Schöpflin. “Again, a sampling of what is published will demonstrate this. Much of academia lean to the liberal left and remain in their posts.”
“As far as the CEU is concerned, it enjoys a privileged position inasmuch as it grants both Hungarian and American diplomas, but without its having an American mother university, hence American academic oversight,” Schöpflin said.
“The higher education law is about regulating this. Whether the CEU will want to regularize this is their decision. There is no commitment on the part of the Hungarian government to expel the CEU.” If Hungary can be in any way accused of “illiberalism,” it is only in the economic sphere, said Schöpflin.
Schöpflin suggested globalist voices use the vilification of Hungary as somehow anti-democratic to divert attention from pressing problems in their own nations.
“They perform this virtue signaling in order to deflect attention from equivalent problems at home, along the lines of ‘yes, there may be difficulties here, but look how much worse things are in illiberal, authoritarian, autocratic Hungary,'” he said, “this is an old rhetorical trick.”