•   
  •   

US News Orban’s Pandemic Power Grab Reveals the EU’s Wider Frailties

14:00  06 april  2020
14:00  06 april  2020 Source:   msn.com

DUP councillor blames pandemic on ‘God’s judgment’ for legalising abortion

  DUP councillor blames pandemic on ‘God’s judgment’ for legalising abortion John Carson’s party has distanced itself from the comments. ____________________________________________________ More on coronavirus:All the latest coronavirus news, views and analysisVirus killer: Why soap is the ultimate weapon in the global pandemic (Guardian)How to self-isolate: Key steps to prevent the infection spreading (Vox) ____________________________________________________Earlier this week, a senior party member claimed Northern Ireland has introduced the most extreme abortion laws in Europe.

The EU will ultimately get through the pandemic . It seems it can do little to stop a political malaise that’ s been spreading for far longer, with Orban is backstopped by Poland, whose nationalist government has been playing its own game of chicken with the European authorities over a political

Orban ’ s Pandemic Power Grab Reveals the EU ’ s Wider Frailties . Germany’s Outbreak Slows; U.K. Premier in Hospital: Virus Up

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban. © Getty Hungarian leader Viktor Orban.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Viktor Orban was Hungary’s firebrand champion of democracy when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, the liberal student leader who told the Russians to go home. As an authoritarian prime minister three decades later, he just called into question whether his country is a democracy at all.

With the European Union preoccupied with how to fight the novel coronavirus and its economic fallout, Orban enhanced his already formidable power on March 30 by allowing himself to rule by decree indefinitely, ostensibly to tackle the emergency. There were murmurs of outrage in western European capitals, followed by private admission that the EU isn’t capable—or willing—to do anything about its rogue member. “In Brussels, they sit in a bubble and dish out criticism instead of saving lives,” an emboldened Orban told Hungarian state radio on April 3.

How the pandemic affects terrorism

 How the pandemic affects terrorism © Uncredited Archive image of a vehicle convoy with members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia. Johannesburg. The members of terrorist organizations such as IS are also threatened by the corona virus. However, some of them see new opportunities in the chaos of the pandemic. The latest statements by the terrorist organizations Islamic State and Al Qaeda fluctuate between worry and propaganda. The virus was a punishment for the unbelievers, it was said from one side.

Orban ’ s Pandemic Power Grab Reveals the EU ’ s Wider Frailties . Germany’s Outbreak Slows; U.K. Premier in Hospital: Virus Up , The accusations come as EU -US relations are at a low point. Demand for protective gear has rocketed during the pandemic .

Half of the EU governments urged Orban to respect the rule-of-law while the EU ’ s largest political group again revived calls to expel his party. The government in Budapest rescinded a plan to strip power from mayors during the pandemic . And the cabinet postponed a weekly briefing Thursday

If the coronavirus has shown up the EU’s frailties in finding a united response to the crisis, Orban’s ability to thumb his nose at western Europe exposes a weakness that risks longer-lasting damage to the post-Cold War integration project. The EU will ultimately get through the pandemic. It seems it can do little to stop a political malaise that’s been spreading for far longer, with Hungary energizing nationalists in Poland, Italy, and elsewhere.

TThe sun rises behind the oldest Hungarian bridge, the Lanchid. © Getty TThe sun rises behind the oldest Hungarian bridge, the Lanchid.

Orban certainly picked his moment. The EU is recovering from Britain’s departure on Jan. 31 and doesn’t need another big conflict now, according to diplomats in Brussels. Two officials say that few people in European diplomatic circles were surprised by Orban exploiting a crisis to grab more power, but nobody really wants to force the issue. 

Olympic fire in Fukushima: "Light at the end of the tunnel"

 Olympic fire in Fukushima: © Photo: Uncredited / Kyodo News / AP / dpa The Olympic fire is officially handed over to Fukushima Prefecture. The Olympic flame has been handed over to the Japanese province of Fukushima. A small lantern with the flame will be put on display in the J-Village football training center near the Fukushima nuclear ruin until the end of April, as the organizers announced at the handover ceremony that the games, which had been moved into the coming year.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban can now rule by decree. Doctors worry he won’t use that power to Under Mr. Orban , the cancer death rate rose and is tied for the worst in the European Union. “The extremely well-functioning pandemic defense network was weakened in recent years,” says Erzsebet

Faith in Orban to exercise restraint is running low. In the past decade, the nationalist leader has used supermajorities in parliament to dismantle checks and balances, build the EU ’ s largest state propaganda machine and crack down on civil society to silence dissent.

Any talk of action such as suspending Hungary’s EU voting rights, or even withholding aid, has gone nowhere because of the need for consensus in EU decision-making. Orban is backstopped by Poland, whose nationalist government has been playing its own game of chicken with the European authorities over a political takeover of the judiciary. Warsaw has provided cover by promising to veto any sanctions on Budapest, and vice versa. The Poles also joined Orban in complaining the EU wasn’t providing enough money to help address Covid-19.

As for the Continent’s indomitable firefighter, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, concern about Hungary is simply not high on her agenda given the pandemic, according to a person in Berlin familiar with her thinking. Member states are at odds over how to pay for the damage from the virus as Italy, in particular, struggles with the effects of a severe outbreak.

Coronavirus: NATO will only help on the sidelines

 Coronavirus: NATO will only help on the sidelines © REUTERS / Fabian Bimmer The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, in Hamburg, Germany, on January 17, 2020. The question of coronavirus this Thursday at the first NATO meeting at thirty. Thirty members since North Macedonia officially joined the Atlantic Alliance last week. NATO is involved in the fight against the virus, but the other threats must not be forgotten, said its secretary general.

The EU is currently divided over whether to take national or universal action to save the European She said this week in an interview with the Washington Post: "Something like a pandemic can only be Orban ' s coronavirus power - grab shows how toothless EU really is. Yanis Varoufakis sends EU

Orban ’ s measures triggered a stern response from Brussels, though. 13 political parties in the European People’ s Party have called for his Fidesz party Orban is well used to criticism. Fidesz has already been suspended from the EPP for its anti-immigration policies and for Orban ’ s verbal attacks

Viktor Orban during a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. © Getty Viktor Orban during a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban with France's Emmanuel Macron. © Getty Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban with France's Emmanuel Macron.

Even calls to kick Orban’s Fidesz party out of the biggest bloc in the European Parliament can’t seem to get traction. Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, which wields the most influence in the group, has shown no indication it supports that. Indeed, many of its grandees, including the late Helmut Kohl, who was the West German chancellor when the Berlin Wall fell, admired Orban as an anti-communist freedom fighter. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeded Merkel as CDU leader, declined to sign a letter admonishing Orban.

“Orban is doing what he’s doing because he knows he can get away with it,” says Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia, a political risk consulting firm. “The EU, by and large, has not fully understood who they’re dealing with, and that explains why they haven’t mobilized tools to constrain him.”

The Hungarian leader’s stature as a trailblazer among Europe’s nationalists is largely because of his success at legitimizing his “illiberal democracy” at home and abroad. His defining moment was in 2015, when he opposed Merkel’s decree of an EU-wide welcome for refugees from the Syrian war. Orban portrayed himself as the Continent’s border guard, building a fence to shut them out and allowing those stranded in a Budapest railway station to flee to western Europe. 

Coronavirus: Donald Trump plans to place New York State in quarantine

 Coronavirus: Donald Trump plans to place New York State in quarantine The American president assured reflect on the implementation of such a measure for "a short period", without giving more details © REX / SIPA Donald Trump leaves the White House for the Norfolk military base, March 28, 2020. PANDEMIC - The American president assured reflect on the implementation of such a measure for "a short period", without giving more details While remaining elusive, Donald Trump raised the possibility of placing the state of New York in quarantine on Saturday.

In an extraordinary demand to rewrite national laws, the European Commission President said asylum seekers should be able to get a job while their application is still be assessed. Give refugees to the right to work from day one, says Juncker as he reveals power - grab for EU - wide migration policy.

Viktor Orban urged Hungarians to beware the power of ‘the dark side’ in his speech on immigration The EU and some of its key member states have been “taken hostage” by a “speculative financial accept refugee quotas imposed by Brussels. Orban then declared Central and Eastern Europe the

A car drives on the oldest Hungarian bridge, the Lanchid. © Getty A car drives on the oldest Hungarian bridge, the Lanchid. Hungarian Parliament is seen without tourists. © Getty Hungarian Parliament is seen without tourists.

An ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Orban has inspired populist leaders in France and Italy. He’s also earned lavish praise from Donald Trump, who compared Orban to a twin brother at a White House meeting a year ago. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s governing party, has said his goal is to re-create Budapest at home in Warsaw. 

Orban, 56, is a political chameleon who’s the EU’s longest-serving leader after Merkel. After the student movement morphed into his Fidesz party, he won power as a conservative in 1998. Another stint in opposition from 2002 saw him turn into a divisive populist who attacked the government as being riddled with communists. By the time he became prime minister again, in 2010, his support base had widened, backing him as the man to restore dignity to those Hungarians left behind by the country’s transition to a globalized member of the EU.  

Since then he’s used his two-thirds parliamentary supermajority to railroad through any opposition as he dismantled checks and balances, stacking the courts with loyalists, passing a new constitution, and tinkering with electoral law to boost his unassailability at the ballot box. He built a propaganda machine that includes almost 500 media outlets and cracked down on independent civic groups. He made Hungarian émigré George Soros an enemy of the state.

Masked, at a distance, the voters of Wisconsin vote in the middle of a pandemic

 Masked, at a distance, the voters of Wisconsin vote in the middle of a pandemic © Supplied by Le Point The National Guard deployed in the polling stations, where the voters wear masks: the inhabitants of Wisconsin vote on Tuesday, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic , for local elections and the Democratic primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who denounced a "scandalous" decision likely to turn out to be "fatal".

In truth, the EU has been Orban’s great enabler in many ways. A law graduate who later studied at Oxford University on a Soros scholarship, Orban made sure that even if legislation diverged in spirit from the EU, it was hard to sanction. And while he’s reveled in his role as agitator-in-chief, he’s kept his economy open for business—and, of course, EU aid.

Hungary and Poland receive the most money of all EU members on a net basis. Germany, meanwhile, remains the biggest single investor in Hungary, with investments including a factory being built by BMW. Orban offered tax breaks and even a law to ensure workers would do enough overtime. In turn, he developed a Putin-like circle of rich businessmen who benefited from EU funding.

a man in a military uniform: 1720P_SPOL_HUNGARY_03_CMS © Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg 1720P_SPOL_HUNGARY_03_CMS
Military police officers patrol the deserted Heroes' Square in Budapest. © Reuters Military police officers patrol the deserted Heroes' Square in Budapest.

After years of state control not seen since the days of communism, recent polls suggested the majority of Hungarians were still satisfied with their level of democracy. Then came the onslaught of the coronavirus. “Orban has been consistently ruthless in exploiting opportunity to further centralize power,” says Rahman, who’s worked at the European Commission and U.K. Treasury. “He’s obviously using Covid-19 as context and a pretext.”

Governments including the U.K.’s have triggered emergency legislation to enhance their power to address the pandemic and tighten controls, but they don’t go as far as Orban’s open-ended law. It grants him the right to rule by decree until he agrees the pandemic no longer requires it. Hungary had recorded 733 cases of Covid-19, with 34 deaths, as of April 5.

LIVE Coronavirus: The prolonged confinement beyond April 15… Emmanuel Macron will address the French on Monday evening…

 LIVE Coronavirus: The prolonged confinement beyond April 15… Emmanuel Macron will address the French on Monday evening… Follow with us the latest information related to the “Covid-19” pandemic © Gonzalo Fuentes / AP / SIPA Emmanuel Macron prays to restore confidence in politicians. LIVE - Follow us with the latest information related to the “Covid-19” pandemic ESSENTIALS In France, 7,632 deaths have been recorded in hospitals since the start of the epidemic on March 1, including 16 in overseas, according to a last report announced this Wednesday. That’s 541 more deaths in 24 hours.

A man walks along Budapest's Elisabeth bridge. © Getty A man walks along Budapest's Elisabeth bridge.

Within a day, his government filed a raft of legislation to withdraw the power of mayors, classify the details of a $2 billion rail project funded by China, and even expand control over theaters. He backtracked on the mayors after his own lawmakers protested and spooked investors dumped the currency, the forint. Orban denied his new power is a threat to democracy and promised to give it up once the crisis is over. He said it’s nothing more than what a French president has in “peacetime.” 

An EU official says the European Commission is looking into exactly what steps Orban has taken, but it’s not clear what rules, if any, he’s breached because of the unprecedented nature of the crisis. “By killing the virus, we should not kill democracy,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said on Friday. “Next to the need to gain immunity against corona, we must strengthen our collective immunity against the virus of absolute power.”

An option may be to look at meting out punishment in the EU’s seven-year budget that’s under discussion, one of the diplomats in Brussels says. Talks on that are on hold after EU leaders failed to reach an agreement the last time they met in person, on Feb. 21. Hungary’s actions should bear “financial consequences” in the budget talks because it was “unacceptable” for member states to exploit the crisis to reduce civil liberties, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on April 3 after a video conference of EU foreign ministers.

For now, though, few in the EU are willing to call Orban out publicly. When European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen first commented on March 31, she called on governments not to undermine democracy, though she didn’t mention Hungary by name. Only later did she say she had “concerns” about what was happening in the country of just under 10 million people.

Coronavirus: German President pleads for more solidarity in Europe

 Coronavirus: German President pleads for more solidarity in Europe © Sven Hoppe / AFP / POOL German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the recording of his Easter speech in Berlin on April 11, 2020. The current pandemic and the restrictive measures imposed on the populations push the political leaders to address their fellow citizens. After Angela Merkel who recently spoke on television, it is the German President who does the same this Saturday evening. Frank-Walter Steinmeier placed solidarity at the heart of his speech.

In a joint statement on April 1, a majority of EU governments said they were “deeply concerned about the risk of violations of the principles of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights arising from the adoption of certain emergency measures.” There was no mention of Orban. In another twist, Hungary signed the statement the next day. It said the values it’s defending are “common to all of us.” —With Patrick Donahue, Marek Strzelecki, and Ewa Krukowska

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

In pictures: Coronavirus outbreak (Photos)

Coronavirus: German President pleads for more solidarity in Europe .
© Sven Hoppe / AFP / POOL German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the recording of his Easter speech in Berlin on April 11, 2020. The current pandemic and the restrictive measures imposed on the populations push the political leaders to address their fellow citizens. After Angela Merkel who recently spoke on television, it is the German President who does the same this Saturday evening. Frank-Walter Steinmeier placed solidarity at the heart of his speech.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks
usr: 1
This is interesting!