In Hungary, Orban consolidates his power before risky legislative elections

In October, the chairwoman of the much-maligned Hungarian Media Council suddenly resigned. After almost nine years at the head of this institution where she faithfully applied the policy of bringing the media into line desired by the nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Monika Karas justified her departure by “The search for new professional challenges”. One of its last noticeable decisions was the withdrawal of the license of Klubradio, the last critical radio antenna in this central European country. A few days after his resignation, we learned of his appointment to the vice-presidency of the Court of Auditors.

A simple promotion? In Hungary, the opposition and civil society doubt it. The mandate of Mme Karas was due to end in the summer of 2022, just after the spring legislative elections, which are set to be the tightest in twelve years for the far-right leader – for the first time, he will have to face an opposition united. Gold, “By resigning, Monika Karas allowed the only current government party to appoint a president for nine more years”, denounced the association of Hungarian journalists.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In Orban’s Hungary, the courts deprive the main independent radio station of air

She has in fact been replaced by Andras Koltay, an academic equally attached to power. Gergely Gulyas, Mr Orban’s chief of staff, replied that it was a mere coincidence: “In constitutional democracies, terms have a beginning and an end, and they do not necessarily coincide with parliamentary cycles. “ But Peter Marki-Zay, the candidate nominated on October 17 by the opposition to face Mr. Orban, sees it as a maneuver, especially since the new President of the Council will only be revocable by a two-thirds majority of Parliament. “If we win the elections, we will not be able to restore press freedom by restoring frequencies, for example,” he denounces, aware that the two-thirds majority will be unattainable.

Strong way

This resignation is the manifestation of a larger problem for the Hungarian opposition. The two-thirds threshold not only makes it possible to remove or appoint most public officials, but also to amend the Constitution. Mr Orban has had it since the 2018 election, and uses it regularly for his contested reforms. Recently, for example, he changed the rules for appointing the attorney general or placed almost all of the country’s universities in foundations legally outside the control of the government, but all run by relatives who are almost irremovable.

You have 55.56% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.

source site-29

Leave a Reply