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