US Senator warns “democracy at risk” in Hungary
Thursday, 14 July 2011 09:07
The co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission on Thursday expressed concern over recent government measures in Hungary and gave warning that “democracy is at risk” in the country.
In a statement published in the Congressional Record, Democrat Senator Benjamin L Cardin said while events during Transatlantic Week last week have reflected strong ties between the US and Hungary, there have been other developments overshadowing these relations.
While Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s two-thirds majority support in government is “not necessarily a bad thing”, Cardin said “the Orban government has used that supermajority to push through one controversial initiative after another.” Among such initiatives he mentioned the media law, the citizenship law and the new constitution, as well as changes to the Constitutional Court, measures to reduce early retirement for soldiers and police officers and changes to the ombudsman system.
The statement also mentions that “restrictions by Hungarian authorities on pro-Tibet demonstrations during last week’s visit to Budapest of the Chinese Premier were seen as unnecessary and heavyhanded”.
“In 1989, Hungary stood as an inspiration for democracy and human rights advocates around the globe. Today, I am deeply troubled by the trends there. (…) I hope that other countries looking for transformative examples will steer clear of this Hungarian model,” the statement said.
Ildiko Lendvai, the opposition Socialist member of parliament’s human rights committee, said in response that “it gives us no pleasure that Hungarian citizens must more and more often be defended from abroad against their own government.”