Media blackout in Hungary as European Parliament considers Article 7 resolution

May 17, 2017

Hungarian state media and news outlets close to the ruling Fidesz party are not reporting on the European Parliament’s plans to vote today on a resolution calling for sanctions against Hungary.

As a result, the vast majority of the Hungarian public is not aware that the European Parliament will likely adopt a resolution supporting the unprecedented use of Article 7 of the European Treaty, a move that would constitute a first step toward a loss of Hungary’s voting rights in the European Council.

The Hungarian state-run and Fidesz-controlled media last mentioned Article 7 on May 15, when covering a press conference by Fidesz Vice-President Gergely Gulyás.

While acknowledging that some kind of resolution on Hungary is likely to pass in the European Parliament, Gulyás emphasized that the resolution is not binding and that the use of Article 7 would harm Hungary.

“We need to keep in mind that anyone from Hungary supporting Article 7 […]  will have to face voters here,” he warned.

Nevertheless, other than Gulyás’ statement there has been no coverage of the impending historic vote and its potential implications for Hungary’s future and relationship with Brussels.

The morning news on state-run channel M1, the state media website hirado.hu, as well as Fidesz-affiliated newspapers such as Magyar Idők, Origo, and 888.hu, did not mention the vote, despite their strong focus on arguments with Brussels regarding migration.

The silence on the vote today across all state-run and Fidesz-controlled media indicates a coordinated media blackout. It remains unclear whether these outlets are waiting for the vote itself before reporting on its implications, or whether there is an informal government order to remain silent on the matter.