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European Union test case: stop Hungary from backsliding on democracy

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Moreover, the new constitution establishes extremely long terms of office for key positions in government, including the public prosecutor and heads of the new budget council, media board, and national judicial office. These positions have been staffed with Fidesz party loyalists who will remain in office for years, regardless of the outcome of the next election.

In December, as international criticism of his government’s actions mounted, Mr. Orbán declared that no one in the world could tell the Hungarian parliament which laws to pass and which not to. Fortunately, he is wrong. In his bluster, Orbán ignored the fact that Hungary has joined the European Union, making it subject to European law. Ultimately, the European Court of Justice can tell Hungary when its laws are unacceptable.

Last week, the executive arm of the EU, the European Commission, launched legal proceedings against Hungary – demanding changes to recent Hungarian legislation affecting the independence of Hungary’s central bank, data protection authority, and judiciary. Commission President José Manuel Barroso went further, raising concerns about the erosion of democracy in Hungary.

With Hungary’s economy in turmoil, the Orbán government is desperate to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund and EU. The IMF has made it clear that no loans will be forthcoming until Hungary settles its disputes with the EU.

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