“We will put an end to the corrupt and anti-demo­c­ra­tic rule of Viktor Orban.” — Inter­view with MEP Anna Júlia Donáth

Foto: Shutterstock, Zoltan Galantai
Foto: Shut­ter­stock, Zoltan Galantai

Anna Donath, MEP, com­ments on Orban’s FIDESZ Party leaving the Euro­pean People Party’s (EPP) faction in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and a new alliance of the Hun­gar­ian oppo­si­tion gainst the anti-euro­pean Prime Min­is­ter. (Die deutsche Über­set­zung des Inter­views finden Sie hier.)

 

Viktor Orbán decided last week that his Fidesz Party left the group of the chris­t­ian demo­c­ra­tic EPP in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Why he did that now and not before?

The rela­tion­ship between Orban’s Fidesz and the EPP has been full of con­flict for the last few years. The author­i­tar­ian pol­i­tics and EU shaming of Viktor Orban were no longer tol­er­a­ble for the Euro­pean con­ser­v­a­tives. However, the members of Fidesz did not decide to leave the EPP, they were made to by the new poli­cies imple­mented by EPP.

The EPP to years ago had sus­pended mem­ber­ship of Fidesz but had hes­i­tated to throw the party out although Orbán and his gov­ern­ment violate main values of the EU and of the chris­t­ian demo­c­ra­tic party family as rule of law. What do You think are the reasons for that? And why they changed now their view shortly before Orbáns move?

I think the EPP should have been more strict. They were reluc­tant to act against Fidesz, mostly because it would’ve meant losing valu­able members. They changed their views due to the many issues they could no longer ignore, such as the remarks made by Tamas Deutsch about the party family or the many accu­sa­tions of Orban. The leaders of EPP were no longer able to sweep these under the carpet.

However, it needs to be empha­sized that the actual con­se­quences of this breakup are yet to be seen. This could be just mere acting insofar as Fidesz retains a close rela­tion­ship with EPP and would support their poli­cies from the outside. There have been exam­ples for such affil­i­a­tions, i.e. the torys of the UK with the EPP.

It is also worth­while to note that the coali­tion partner of Fidesz, KDNP (Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­tic People’s Party) retained its mem­ber­ship within the EPP group.

What does Orbáns step say about his further policy in the EU?

I think Orban made it clear that he no longer con­sid­ers himself a con­ser­v­a­tive, mod­er­ate politi­cian. Fidesz will con­tinue towards a far-right shift that they have been pro­mot­ing for a long time now.

Will it be now more dif­fi­cult for him to carry through his nation­al­ist inter­ests in the EU, because he miss his con­nec­tions to chris­t­ian demo­c­ra­tic and con­ser­v­a­tive heads of gov­ern­ments, and to form alliances with other East Euro­pean governments?

If Fidesz really joins the far right, it might be even easier for them to push their illib­eral agenda as no restric­tions will be imposed upon them. Their ability to actu­ally achieve any­thing might be weak­ened though, without the pow­er­ful allies in EPP.

Will Fidesz now join the group of anti Euro­pean right wing parties in the EP?

That is an option for sure, but you have to ask someone from Fidesz about it.

Do You think other East Euro­pean Parties will follow him and Fidesz?

I trust that they will stay com­mit­ted to the EU and its core values which cannot be said of Fidesz.

Will the sep­a­ra­tion of Fidesz from EPP help the oppo­si­tion in Hungary or will it enforce support for Orbán in public?

I think Fidesz lost some face even in Hungary after being kicked out of a major Euro­pean party. Nat­u­rally, Orban will try to control the nar­ra­tive and suggest that this is a victory for Fidesz and Hungary alike. On the other hand, the Hun­gar­ian people are start­ing to see through the act of Orban and are getting bored hearing about new enemies each week. Our job, as the oppo­si­tion, is to talk about the facts and promote the values of the EU since Orban will hardly do such a thing.

Is there enough support by the EU and in the EP for the oppo­si­tion in Your country, in Poland and other coun­tries in the East? What would you like to see? Some critics of Orbán and his policy in the West demand to exclude Hungary from the EU. What do You think about that?

Hungary does not equal Orban. It is impor­tant to under­stand that the major­ity of Hun­gar­ian society is com­mit­ted to the EU and does not wish to leave at all. We need to get rid of Orban and his corrupt system so we can start to work together with the other Member States in the cre­ation of a new and just Union based on the core values of freedom and democ­racy. With the new rule of law mech­a­nism, the EU has an oppor­tu­nity to effec­tively step up against the illib­eral regimes such as Orban’s. This is a new chapter that might help the fight against Orban’s illib­eral regime, but it will not solve all our prob­lems. The EU can help but it is up to us, the Hun­gar­ian people, to fight for a real change.

And what about finan­cial sanc­tions? Would that help?

We are against impos­ing finan­cial sanc­tions against Hungary as they would hurt the Hun­gar­ian people more than they would hurt Orbán. However, we might use the pos­si­bil­ity of such sanc­tions as an oppor­tu­ni­tiy to strengthen the over­sight over EU funds. This over­sight is much needed to ensure that EU funds are spent on the things that matter the most, instead of con­tribut­ing to the wealth of Orban’s family and friends. Health­care, edu­ca­tion, and the job market are all fields that need the support of the EU, espe­cially during these hard times. We need to ensure the devel­op­ment of Hungary as a whole instead of the elite con­nected to Fidesz.

How is the mood in Hungary for the moment espe­cially in view of the Corona crisis? Does Orbáns atti­tude as an author­i­tar­ian leader help him or is he loosing support?

As soon as he is facing real trou­bles, not the ones created by pro­pa­ganda, Orban is losing control over the sit­u­a­tion. Right now, as people are losing loved ones and are suf­fer­ing the finan­cial con­se­quences of the virus, the gov­ern­ment is unable to provide the nec­es­sary support for the country. They keep talking about defeat­ing the virus and winning the war but fail to realize that there are no winners in this fight. There is only suf­fer­ing and loss and the way things go there will be even more due to the lack of gov­ern­ment support.

The Hun­gar­ian oppo­si­tion is deeply divided, like in Poland. How can there be a chance to replace Orbán and Fidesz, and when?

The Hun­gar­ian oppo­si­tion is no longer divided. A few weeks ago, the six major oppo­si­tion parties declared their alliance against the Fidesz regime. Pre-elec­tions will be held to find the most suit­able can­di­dates who will be sup­ported by all the other oppo­si­tion parties in the general elec­tions in 2022. The country is uniting and our chances have never looked so good. I am con­fi­dent that together we will be able to put an end to the corrupt and anti-demo­c­ra­tic rule of Viktor Orban.

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