Orbán says democracy in Europe is broken

December 2, 2016

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“We must endure until democracy returns, because democracy is broken in Europe today, there is no democratic balance, the people think differently than what the leaders want to force on them. . . .We have to hold out until we are in the majority.” – Viktor Orbán

Hungary’s Constitutional Court (AB) can now assess whether institutions of the European Union are violating human dignity, other basic laws or Hungary’s sovereignty and its historical constitutional self-image, according to a decision it announced on its website Wednesday.

Fundamental rights commissioner László Székely requested last December that the AB make a constitutional interpretation of the mass distribution of refugees made possible by the EU quota system. In June, the AB began discussing the motion, but in the weeks leading up to the October 2 referendum, the case had yet to be put on the court’s agenda. After the unsuccessful constitutional amendment proposal on November 8, the court put discussion of the case back onto its agenda.

In his weekly radio interview on state-owned Kossuth Rádio’s 180 Minutes, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he was happy with the Constitutional Court’s Wednesday decision, saying the court “has given enormous help” to the government in the “fight against Brussels.”

“Now we can put the opposition’s complaints in parentheses, and we can forget that the opposition took the side of Brussels and that Jobbik stood in the way, because now we managed to go around the opposition,” Orbán said.

He said the court made it clear that the government has a right and responsibility, based on the Fundamental Law and without need for a constitutional amendment, to stand up for the country’s self-image, constitutional identity and basic interests, and that the cabinet cannot support a decision from Brussels that violates Hungary’s sovereignty.

“[The EU] can’t tell us who we should live together with, only the National Assembly and we ourselves can,” he said of the decision, which is good news for everyone who doesn’t “want them to occupy us.”

Experts point out that the AB’s view doesn’t necessarily mean what Orbán says it means, because the AB did not determine in Wednesday’s decision how it would rule on a quota. Additionally, the decision on the most important question – whether the Hungarian authorities could participate in the distribution of groups of refugees in other EU member states – has been postponed to a later date, Index reports.

Orbán is hoping that certain governments which fail to understand that people do not want immigration and do not want foreigners among them will disappear with time. Until then, “we must endure until democracy returns, because democracy is broken in Europe today, there is no democratic balance, the people think differently than what the leaders want to force on them,” he said in the radio interview. “We have to hold out until we are in the majority.”

Orbán said that “the game is a draw for now,” commenting on expected developments in immigration policy which will be discussed at the EU summit scheduled for mid-December. He compared the balance of power to a David and Goliath situation, where the Visegrád 4 countries (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) play David’s role.

“The EU decision-making system, however, is such that the prime ministers can only make unanimous decisions on important questions, so David has a chance here,” he said.

Fidesz praises the AB

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Fidesz spokesperson János Halász said the opposition considers AB’s Wednesday decision on the quota system a serious defeat. “The AB essentially said that the country’s sovereignty cannot be limited in cases where we didn’t sign off on it,” said Halász, adding that Brussels cannot violate Hungary’s sovereignty, nor its constitutional identity.”

Jobbik, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and the Democratic Coalition (DK) parties had uniformly rejected the constitutional amendment proposal on November 8, “and with this the opposition parties made it clear that they cannot be relied on to protect Hungary,” Halász said, adding that “the opposition is fueling the fire of Brussels.”