“The Orbán system could never have strengthened, and the mafia state could not have taken over economy and society, had the EU not provided it with the financial means to do so. As painful as it is to face the facts, the operation of the Orbán system, the winding up of democracy, and the construction of a mafia was paid for via the European Union by the taxpayers of western states . . . . The failure of Hungary’s democracy marks a crisis of the European Union. If the European community can liquidate democracy in a country with the quiet assistance of the EU, then the ‘Hungarian patient’ will spread through the other European countries like wild fire.”
The following editorial by Mária Vásárhelyi entitled “The end of an illusion” (“Egy illúzió vége”) appeared in the October 13th, 2016 of print weekly hvg, (pp.44-45).
Many of us believed Hungary joining the European Union was primarily important because, as a member of a democratic community of European states, certain things were guaranteed not to happen again in this country. We hoped that if we accepted and fulfilled the conditions for EU membership, which primarily pertained to transparency, proper economic relations, and democratic rule of law state norms, then with this Hungary would finally commit itself to respectable free trade, democratic rule of law, solidarity with the needy and the fallen, and principles of freedom and independence. We lulled ourselves to sleep in the naive belief that Hungary was stepping onto a well-paved road, and that, although progress will be tiring and difficult, with much sacrifice, each year we would come closer to realizing a free, independent, just and cohesive society that is free of fear and ensures prosperity,
Today we are confronted with the fact that this was all an illusion. Instead of getting closer, we are getting farther and farther from realizing what was outlined for us by Hungarian democrats. In its present condition, Hungary is not worthy of being a member of the community of democratic states in that it is no longer a rule of law state. Its democratic institutions are in ruins, a narrow economic interest group with political power has taken over the state. The operation of the state has become opaque, corrupt, hate-inciting, and intimidating, and those in power are destroying our civil rights. In economics, in place of fair, result-based competition, they have revived feudalistic relations. Intimidation, vengeance, and hatred overwhelm power, social, and even personal relations.
The dismissal of the results of the referendum and the destruction of Népszabadság were brutal acts of power that made it clear to every democrat, regardless of party affiliation, that Hungary has declared its intention to leave the community of rule of law states.
When Viktor Orbán proclaimed a sweeping victory for the governing party on the day of the invalid referendum following a campaign making use of every conceivable means in an unfair political rivalry, he made it clear that he is not only fighting against the European Union but against the Hungarian people as well.
Those misunderstand the situation who think Népszabadság was destroyed in under a day because it represented the spirit of those critical of power. It wasn’t the opinions published in the newspaper, but the facts it made public that resulted in the birth of its summary death warrant. Because for a dictator the greater enemy is not what others think, but the truth being made public. And recently Népszabadság had been reporting new facts about the economic and political abuses on the part of the mafia state’s leaders and oligarchs. It became obvious to the power that the customary means of intimidation and blackmail are not going to help, and that only throttling it can put an end to the series of exposés. From which, not incidentally, other editorial staffs. And with this they executed not only the most read political daily paper but press freedom.
We, Hungarian citizens, are primarily responsible for the failure of a democratic Hungary. But the European Union also bears serious responsibility. The Orbán system could never have strengthened, and the mafia state could not have taken over economy and society, had the EU not provided it with the financial means to do so. As painful as it is to face the facts, the operation of the Orbán system, the winding up of democracy, and the construction of a mafia was paid for via the European Union by the taxpayers of western states. It is with their money that Orbán’s oligarchs bought up the bulk of the media market, the banks, the utility companies, the successful domestic companies, and obtained a monopoly over the market for raw materials. It is from their money that stadiums are built. They are the ones funding the helicopter trips, excursions to Ibiza, and lovers for the heads of the mafia state, the unscrupulous, unrestrained bacchanalians who are plundering a poor country.
The failure of Hungary’s democracy marks a crisis of the European Union. If the European community can liquidate democracy in a country with the quiet assistance of the EU, then the “Hungarian patient” will spread through the other European countries like wild fire.