The broken IMF negotiations: Does the European Commission want Orbán to step down?

Orbán has received a three-point ultimate from European Commission’s delegation negotiating in Hungary. Brussels asks for the withdrawal of the central bank law and it calls upon the government not to link the flat tax system’s modification to two-third majority. Finally the European Commission confirmed it supports only the stricter IMF programme. The government and the Fidesz (the ruling party) believe the European Commission has set ’impossible’ requirements in order to force Orbán to step down.

Népszabadság believes Mr Barroso has “sent the silk cord” to PM Viktor Orbán, while Magyar Nemzet compares the current pressure from Washington and Brussels to post-war Soviet interference.

“Orbán has been sent the silk cord” – writes deputy editor Gábor Horváth in Népszabadság. The expression is a reference to the 150 year period of Ottoman Turkish rule, when local governors who fell into disgrace were sent a silk cord by the Sultan with which to hang themselves.

In an unusually harsh letter, the chairman of the European Commission called upon PM Orbán to withdraw two pivotal bills on the grounds that they do not appear to be compatible with the Union Treaty. Mr Barroso apparently made it clear that the talks on opening a credit line for Hungary will not resume unless his demand is met. Hungarian officials have declared that both bills will be passed before the end of the year, although the one on the National Bank will be amended according to the recommendations of the European Central Bank. In a front page lead story, Népszabadság quotes leading government officials as saying that “Orban is raising the stakes but will stop short of crashing into the wall.” In his commentary, Horváth compares Mr Orbán’s position to that of his former counterparts in Italy and Greece, where “the ruling parties accepted that the crisis should be tackled by new men, instead of their current prime ministers.” Orbán is a passionate footballer, therefore Horváth ends his comment with a footballing analogy: “The first substitute, State Secretary Mihály Varga, has already pulled off his tracksuit.”

In government linked Magyar Nemzet, the deputy editor Szabolcs Szerető contends that “an outside force intends to push aside the sovereign decision of the Hungarian electorate.” In 1945 the right-wing Smallholders’ Party won the elections, but the Soviet military command imposed a coalition with the Communists. Szerető admits that while “there is no comparison between the two worlds,” nevertheless “the power formula is the same.” He argues that the latest ruling of the Constitutional Court, which abolished important paragraphs of the controversial Media Act and the Penal Code, and struck down the Church Act as a whole, shows clearly how mistaken it was to accuse the government of abolishing the system of checks and balances. Szerető ends his commentary on an ironic note, addressed to Mr Barroso: “What a pity that he stopped short of suggesting a new prime minister, a loyal regent to replace Viktor Orbán.” The right-wing commentator cautions, nonetheless, against a knee-jerk reaction, and points out that it is Hungary that is asking for a credit line.



Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:11