In its new resolution, the European Parliament made an unexpected statement. EU legislators have concluded that Hungary, a longtime bloc member, is no longer a democracy. It established a «hybrid electoral autocracy» instead. Elections are held regularly, but they do not correspond to democratic norms accepted in the world.
433 parliamentarians voted for the resolution, 123 were against it, 28 abstained.
Parliamentarians refer to numerous international indexes that measure the observance of various aspects of democracy in different countries. All these indexes have been steadily lowering Hungary’s rating year after year.
This process began when Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to power in the country in 2010. Since then, according to parliamentarians, the Orban government has been making deliberate, systematic attempts to undermine the key values of the EU.
The electoral system. The independence of the judiciary. Confidentiality of personal data. Freedom of speech. Pluralism in the media. Academic freedom. The rights of the LGBTIQ + community, minorities and refugees. Within Hungary these European values aren’t truly protected from the whim of the state.
All this prompted EU legislators to speak out about the situation in the country. Moreover, this is the first such resolution in the bloc’s history. One of the requirements for joining the European Union is a democratic regime in the country. And the European Parliament’s statement could potentially mean Hungary’s exclusion from the bloc.
In the the European Union’s legislation there is no provision on how and under what conditions for expulsion of a member state. However, European Commision experts have already proposed economic measures. For example, cuting European funding for «cohesion projects» in Hungary by 70%. Until the state starts democratization, of course. This is a very serious measure. Hungary now receives 6 billion euros annually from the bloc.
Right now Hungary is trying to get another 7.2 billion euros from Brussels. This is the money for the country’s restoration plan after the covid pandemic. Brussels is not ready to part with this funding until the recipient country guarantees that it uses the money for its intended purpose. In this regard, Viktor Orban has already signed a decree on the creation of a special Hungarian anti-corruption agency.
However, parliamentarians advise the European Commission to wait until these measures show real results and evidence of their effectiveness. And also keep a close eye on any Hungarian «cohesion projects» with european funding.
The EU itself has also not escaped criticism. The European Parliament accused the bloc’s power structures of indecision and indiscretion. According to the resolution, the bloc turned a blind eye to the demolition of democracy in Hungary.
However, the resolution itself is symbolic and doesn’t include any mandatory measures. It’s not clear what steps will follow.