It has been just over two months since Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary and the leader of Fidesz (Hungarian Civic Alliance), is back in power in Hungary. In these past two months Orban and his newly elected government’s policy proposals, such as the so-called ‘Stop-Soros’ bill has been under close scrutiny by the international press, Non-governmental organisations (NGO) and the European Parliament party groups. However what I found most striking about Orban and his political party Fidesz since April are Orban’s emphasis on ‘Christian democracy’ at his inauguration speech of May, the effect and implications of the European People’s Party’s (EPP) criticisms of the ‘Stop-Soros’ bill and Fidesz’s rigid position on the EU’s migration quota system. With these in mind the electoral success of right-wing Eurosceptic political parties across the EU such as the Italian Northern League (Lega Nord) and the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) also have made me wonder about the next year’s European Parliament elections and how the anti-immigration and Eurosceptic political parties across the EU might consolidate the basis of what Orban stands for and what this may mean for the future direction of the EU.
When the ’Stop-Soros’ bill was part of Orban’s April election campaign, from the international media to human rights organisation, such as the Amnesty International, and the European People’s Party group have all overlooked the details of Orban’s electoral promises. However now that Orban is moving forward with the bill for which he has the mandate, his government is under fire from left and right and it is widely covered in the press. It is not that I support the bill and what it means for those it covers, but it would have been more affective had the critical voices of today were lauder while Orban was promoting his anti-immigration and anti-Soros rhetoric and policy proposals across Hungary earlier this year during the election campaign.
Right after the elections in May 2018, Orban delivered his traditional inaugural speech at the Hungarian Parliament. His 2014 talk is still vividly remembered—what has now come to be known as ‘illiberal democracy’ speech. In which he claimed that the future it would be systems that were “not Western, not liberal, not liberal democracies, and perhaps not even democracies” that would create successful and competitive societies. Fast forward in May 2018, Orban did not make any reference to ‘illiberal democracy’, instead he emphasised on Christian culture and values and how that has been put at risk by the non-Christian refugees. Perhaps he believes he already formed an Illiberal form of government in Hungary, so it is not an urgent matter for him in this term. Additionally his form of government is treated as a ‘good practice’ by Poland and Slovenia, not mentioning the popularity of his illiberal democracy rhetoric in Turkey. This means: Orban reached his goal of normalising ‘illiberal democracy’ in the EU and now he moves on to his next challenge for his new term, his speech points to immigration as the one.
It is suggested that when Orban visited Brussels in early May, he was actually summoned by the two main names of the EPP: Joseph Daul and Manfred Weber. During the De Volkskrant interview, Weber revealed that Orbán had been read the riot act. A growing number of MEPs in the EPP delegation are demanding Fidesz’s expulsion from this basically Christian Democratic group. Allegedly they asked Orban to alter the ‘Stop-Soros’ bill as demanded by European Commission’s Venice Commission and if he continues his illiberal and antidemocratic policies, Fidesz may face expulsion. Since then it is reported that Orban does not particularly refer to this bill as ‘Stop-Soros’, for instance in his visit to Poland, he referred to it as ‘immigration bill’. In terms of content of this bill, It is true that assisting illegal immigration will be a crime, necessitating an amendment to the Criminal Code, but some of most objectionable items will not be included in the new law, including a 25% tax on all financial assistance arriving from abroad.
Ahead of a crucial EU summit due on 28-29 June, EU migratory reform have been a hot topic and the countries that have rejected obligatory quotas for accepting refugees have been at the centre of this debate. Since 2015 how to share the burden of asylum seekers has been a dividing matter in the EU, particular Italy and Greece has been complaining that they are overstressed. This meant disunity and conflict at the EU level. At this summit there is a plan for migratory reform so to overcome some of these problem, since Hungary and Poland do not change their positions on the obligatory quotas. Which meant that the other EU member states had to come up with new ways to get countries like Hungary to make a contribution in some form. Some suggested a flexible system in which countries that refuse quotas could compensate by making contributions in other areas. There is also a serious consideration for reforming the Dublin regulation. However it is also likely that at this EU summit an agreement may not be reached. In fact newly emerging Eurosceptic political parties and Fidesz are now promoting the idea of reform the EU migration policy after the European Parliament elections, probably expecting alike political parties doing significantly well at these elections. Whether there will be an agreement on the EU Migratory Reform I do not know. However it is for sure that the rise of Eurosceptic and anti-immigration political parties will change the future direction of the EU in many areas.