Hungría

Los dirigentes y los diplomáticos de la UE respiraron aliviados cuando el presidente del Consejo Europeo, Charles Michel, anunció la aprobación por unanimidad de un paquete de ayuda de 50.000 millones de euros a Ucrania.

La decisión, que demuestra que el bloque está decidido a apoyar a este país devastado por la guerra, se aprobó después de varias semanas excepcionalmente tensas con el primer ministro húngaro, Viktor Orbán. Orbán había amenazado con vetar el paquete de ayudas, por lo que le acusaron de “chantaje”, y varios líderes europeos empezaron a sugerir la posibilidad de recurrir al artículo 7 de la legislación comunitaria para arrebatar a Hungría el derecho de voto, ante las constantes maniobras de Orbán para socavar las medidas de la UE.…  Seguir leyendo »

Viktor Orbán y Vladímir Putin, en un foro celebrado en China en octubre de 2023. Grigory Sysoyev. Reuters

Viktor Orbán es como ese conductor que oye hablar de un hombre enloquecido que conduce en dirección contraria y exclama: "¿Sólo uno? ¡Todos van en dirección contraria!".

El primer ministro de Hungría lleva mucho tiempo explorando los límites de la Unión Europea y la OTAN. Sus juegos en los Consejos Europeos y su deliberada dilación del paquete de ayuda de 50.000 millones de euros para Ucrania han frustrado a los líderes de la Unión y lo han aislado. Su inexplicable obstinación contra el acceso de Suecia a la OTAN no tiene explicación racional, y sí contrapartidas.

Su comportamiento en cada dossier ha sido mezquino en el mejor de los casos y siniestro en el peor, y da pistas sobre la extraordinaria influencia del Kremlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban prior to the start of a EU leaders summit at the European Council building in Brussels on 26 October 2023. Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images.

The high-stakes EU summit in December 2023 resulted in accession negotiations for Ukraine and Moldova and candidate status for Georgia – thanks to a well-timed coffee break. As Hungary’s Victor Orban sought to derail the decision on Ukraine, he was invited by the leaders of the other 26 member states to take a coffee break. As Orban left the room, they got a consensus to open negotiations and he got the €10 billion that had been frozen over Hungary’s rule-of-law violations. He did however succeed in blocking €50 billion of aid to Ukraine – a lifeline for Ukraine’s war-torn economy.

There are three main takeaways from the summit.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro de Hungría, Viktor Orbán, saluda al presidente francés, Emmanuel Macron (de espaldas), el pasado 14 de diciembre en Bruselas.MIGUEL MEDINA (AFP)

La decisión de la Comisión Europea de desbloquear 10.000 millones de euros en fondos previamente congelados debido a la grave preocupación por la corrupción y el Estado de derecho en Hungría, es un error flagrante porque recompensa a Viktor Orbán, un autócrata cuyas acciones son contrarias a los valores fundamentales de la UE, y socava directamente la postura unida del bloque contra la agresión rusa en Ucrania. El momento no podía ser peor, ya que el partido gobernante húngaro acaba de aprobar una nueva y draconiana ley de “protección de la soberanía” que recuerda a la opresiva ley de “agentes extranjeros” de Vladímir Putin, concebida para reprimir la disidencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Viktor Orbán is likely to repeat this tactic, again and again, as he leverages Ukraine to unblock more money for his regime.’ Orbán in Brussels, 14 December. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty

The decision by European leaders to open formal EU membership negotiations with Ukraine is historic – it offers hope to a people who are courageously fighting Russian aggression and sacrificing their lives for a European future. The agreement marks a historic new chapter for the EU. But legally, it required the unanimity of all 27 leaders, and it only became possible because Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán – who had threatened to block the opening of talks with Ukraine – left the room, in effect abstaining rather than wielding his veto.

The fact that 26 EU leaders, including Orbán’s supposed allies, signed up despite his opposition underscores the importance of this historic step.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, líder del partido gobernante Ley y Justicia, en un acto electoral de Przysucha. Kacper Pempel. Reuters

La toma de los medios es una de las causas fundamentales del retroceso democrático en Europa central y oriental. En Polonia, a pesar del escándalo de la venta de visados que ha sacudido al gobierno actual, la campaña para las próximas elecciones está centrada fundamentalmente en un referéndum con una pregunta falsa sobre la supuesta campaña de la UE para llevar por la fuerza a los inmigrantes ilegales a su territorio.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, del partido gobernante Ley y Justicia (PiS), sigue el ejemplo de su homólogo húngaro, Viktor Orbán, y está dedicándose a alimentar el miedo a la injerencia extranjera y a utilizar el poder informal, lo que crea unas perspectivas preocupantes sobre la calidad de las elecciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

El buen desempeño del populista prorruso Robert Fico en las elecciones de Eslovaquia podría provocar otra fractura en la coalición liderada por Occidente para contrarrestar el imperialismo de Vladimir Putin. Ya han estado surgiendo grietas en la antigua alianza estrecha entre Ucrania y Polonia en el período previo a las elecciones polacas del 15 de octubre. Con Hungría gobernada por Viktor Orbán, un aliado confiable de Putin, es posible que el presidente estadounidense Joe Biden pronto tenga que competir para no sólo con el bando de republicanos prorrusos de Donald Trump, sino también con los gobiernos de tres de los cuatro vecinos de Ucrania en la OTAN volviéndose rebeldes a favor del Kremlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘MCC’s views are closely aligned with those of Viktor Orbán, and it funds academics who disseminate Orbán’s positions.’ Photograph: Denes Erdos/AP

Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), the conservative Hungarian educational institution funded by Viktor Orbán’s rightwing government, has been expanding internationally. It opened a centre in Brussels, bought a university in Vienna and has plans for new branches in other western European cities, including London.

I did a fellowship with MCC in Budapest last year and am concerned about the institution’s expansion. Its views are closely aligned with those of Orbán, and it funds academics who disseminate Orbán’s positions. In a way, it serves to extend his influence across Europe and beyond.

MCC has tremendous financial backing, receiving more than £1.3bn in Hungarian state funding in 2020.…  Seguir leyendo »

La presidencia rotatoria del Consejo de la Unión es un legado del pasado, de la época en que esa institución que representa a todos los gobiernos de la UE no tenía un presidente permanente. Esto explica a su vez por qué la presidencia ha perdido poder con el tiempo, en beneficio del recién nombrado presidente permanente, actualmente Charles Michel. Sin embargo, al no haber sido suprimida, la presidencia sigue siendo un elemento fijo de la maquinaria diaria de la Unión. Confiere a su titular el poder de fijar la agenda, al presidir prácticamente todas las reuniones que se celebran entre los ministros de los Veintisiete y representar al Consejo en las relaciones con las demás instituciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

El final del 2022 quedó marcado por una nueva escaramuza en la batalla entre Hungría y la UE, en la que los líderes europeos están reteniendo alrededor de 5.800 millones de euros en fondos de recuperación poscovid-19 a causa del retroceso democrático en el país gobernado por Viktor Orbán y su partido Fidesz. Esta decisión ha llegado tras años de advertencias por parte de grupos internacionales de la sociedad civil acerca de la represión organizada por parte del Estado a las operaciones de oponentes políticos, periodistas, universidades, organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) y medios de comunicación independientes, así como una creciente ola de preocupación entre los eurodiputados acerca de la dirección que seguirá Hungría en el futuro.…  Seguir leyendo »

The electric vehicle boom in a quiet Hungarian town

Sándor Máriás still remembers the Soviet fighter jets that kept him up all night as a child. He grew up during the communist era on a small farm next to a military air base outside Debrecen, in eastern Hungary. Their family home was 300 metres from the runway.

“The jets’ roar was deafening especially when they practised touch-and-go manoeuvres”, he recalls.

His family was one of a handful that the communist authorities allowed to keep their farm at a time of mandatory co-operatives. After the regime collapsed in 1989, the others all sold their land, but Máriás held out. That was until a wave of green technology started to wash over Debrecen.…  Seguir leyendo »

La formación del nuevo Gobierno de Italia, dirigida por la política de ultraderecha Giorgia Meloni, fue celebrada calurosamente por el círculo de Viktor Orban. Tanto el primer ministro como la nueva presidenta de Hungría, Katalin Novák, publicaron fotos junto a Meloni, cuyo protagonismo se ha disparado tras el colapso del Gobierno de coalición de Mario Draghi. Las conexiones de la nueva primera ministra italiana con Orban datan de al menos el 2019, año en que, en una reunión de partidos euroescépticos, Meloni y los seguidores de su partido postfascista de ultraderecha Hermanos de Italia recibieron a Orban con una atronadora ovación al canto de ragazzi di Buda, grazie, grazie!…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Viktor Orbán’s closeness to Putin is no mere coquetry but rather an integral part of the “special path” he is seeking to tread between east and west.’ The Hungarian PM, left, and Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 1 February. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/Reuters

The invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 will go down in the annals of European history. Russia’s undeclared war has cast an almost apocalyptic shadow. And it has dramatically altered the relationships that had prevailed between east and west since the collapse of the USSR. Whenever or however this armed conflict ends, it will undoubtedly take a long time for a new peace-guaranteeing equilibrium to be established. At the very least, the European Union and Nato now have to reckon with a hostile power on their borders and to prepare for a new phase of the cold war.

Hungarians voted in general elections just weeks after the invasion, in April, and it seems reasonable to assume that the war next door had an influence on the result.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Bank of Viktor Orbán

A cold early April wind blew over Budapest as Hungary’s illiberal leader stepped on stage for an election victory speech. Having secured his fourth successive landslide, Viktor Orbán was jubilant as he addressed a small crowd of party faithful outside the Whale, a swanky fish-shaped convention centre by the Danube.

“We sure are in good shape”, he said to laughter and applause. “We won so big you can see it from the Moon”.

Nearby, a group of bankers with close links to the prime minister’s elite circle was similarly relieved. Orbán, Europe’s longest-serving government leader, for years had backed their effort to merge three of the country’s largest banks into a single institution, hoping it would serve his political goals as much as customers.…  Seguir leyendo »

Moldovan President Maia Sandu holds her ballot at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Chisinau, Moldova, on July 11, 2021. Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

From Viktor Orban’s reelection as prime minister in Hungary this month to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, it’s easy to conclude the outlook for democracy in Eastern Europe is bleak. But while creeping authoritarianism in Hungary—and similar though less extreme problems in Poland—is real and a cause for deep concern, it has also overshadowed a wave of democratic consolidation playing out across the rest of Eastern Europe.

Over the past three years, a string of liberal electoral victories in the region have gone largely unnoticed. Far from being a passing phase, a wide variety of factors—from an emboldened European Union to generational replacement—suggests this democratic consolidation will only continue.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban holding a news conference after his reelection, Budapest, April 6, 2022. Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

The timing could not have been more striking. On April 3, nearly six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine had apparently reinvigorated and reunified the liberal democratic West, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was easily reelected to his fourth consecutive term in office, and his fifth in total. Although Orban has long emulated Putin and presides over an increasingly authoritarian regime—and although he faced for the first time a largely united opposition front—he had little trouble winning, drawing more than 53 percent of the vote and securing a continued supermajority in parliament. With the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he also now carries the dubious distinction of being the longest-serving head of government in the European Union, a supposed bastion of human rights and democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las consecuencias políticas de las elecciones húngaras, que han dejado a un Viktor Orbán más envalentonado que nunca, van mucho más allá de Budapest.

En un sistema político tan rígido como el comunitario, dependiente en gran medida de acuerdos unánimes entre los Estados miembro, el ejecutivo húngaro amenaza con convertirse en un caballo de Troya: un gobierno que, mediante su veto sistemático a la integración europea, permita a regímenes como China o Rusia marcar la agenda política en Bruselas.

Frente a esta amenaza existencial, y tras años de un fracasado apaciguamiento del Gobierno de Orbán, la Unión Europea debe ser capaz de librar una guerra en tres frentes: el económico, el político y el jurídico.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves a polling station in Budapest after voting on April 3. Orban, a right-wing nationalist, was reelected. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)

When Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, a wide variety of commentators believed there was at least one silver lining in this catastrophic cloud. Vladimir Putin’s assault on the liberal order, they hoped, would expose and delegitimize the illiberal, populist forces that have been surging for years. One speculated that the war in Ukraine could end the age of populism. Another, the scholar Francis Fukuyama, saw it as an opportunity for people to finally reject right-wing nationalism. Alas, six weeks into this conflict, such notions look like wishful thinking.

In Europe, two pivotal elections — in Hungary and France — tell the tale.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Unsinkable Viktor Orban

Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party just won its fourth consecutive election by a landslide. As was the case four years ago, Mr. Orban’s election was not a fair contest between the Hungarian government and the opposition. Voters could vote for whomever they chose, but the playing field was tilted in favor of the current government, including campaign regulations that favored Fidesz, biased media coverage and a blurring of the line between the ruling political party and the state.

The Hungarian prime minister’s win was due in part to how he protected his economic legitimacy during a cost-of-living crisis by issuing government handouts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and members of the Fidesz party celebrate onstage in Budapest on April 3. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

Western elites no doubt find Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s landslide victory on Sunday distasteful. To some extent, this is justified: Independent election observers faulted Orban’s party, Fidesz, for tilting the playing field in its favor.

But it’s also true that Orban was reelected because of his combination of market economics, nationalism and social conservatism. This is what a majority of Hungarians want.

The history of Hungarian politics since the fall of communism makes this clear. The country’s first free election, in 1990, was won by a nationalist Christian democratic party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, with about 25 percent. Three other conservative parties, including Fidesz, combined for an additional 27 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »