Eurozone

Hungary has been criticised for a lot of actions in the past few months, but nothing serious happened after all. A good old European habit – some could say, because the Union is traditionally hardly able to stick up for its needs effectively. But this time it’s not the matter of political potence, but of common sense: the Union’s and Hungary’s mutual need is to cooperate instead of confront. Have a deeper look at the reasons.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán is back in power after 8 years of leading the Hungarian opposition. Many analysts have stated that he has gained a lot of political routin and has become much wiser. And Mr Orbán has, indeed, not only because he won the elections of 2010 with a supermajority, but because his popularity hasn’t shrunk ever since, despite a number of stressful actions (media act, private pension funds). Why is that so?

Mr Orbán seems to have learned that politics is not about forcing decisions down the people’s throat, but adjusting political decisions to social interests – as much as possible. Today, there still are a lot of controversial issues to be solved in the Hungarian internal affairs, which will highly affect the future of this center-right government. But he’s been doing a rather good job so far, which keeps his popularity high.

This way of thinking seems to make him unique in the European sphere too. Der Spiegel, the German daily newspaper reported that Mr Orbán became one of the opinion leaders of a group standing against the Merkel-Sarkozy pact of competitiveness:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hadn’t received this much applause in Brussels in a long time. European politicians had been criticizing him for weeks over his restrictive new media law. But last Tuesday hundreds of officials with the European People’s Party celebrated the conservative politician like a hero.

As for the pact, the criticisms can be classified into three groups.

#1: federalist view. Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of European liberals said that the Union’s crisis fund mustn’t depend only on Germany and France, but on Europe. Here’s the point. Now, if you had the choise between the decision of the Commission with weak legitimacy or France and Germany with no legitimacy over the whole Union, which one would you choose?

#2: social view. I have already raised concernes about the lack of change in the European financial system, but the “pact of competitiveness” concerns people even more, because (Eastern) European societies have payed their share to exit the crisis, but some of the international enterprises won’t contribute. The pact would put special crisis management taxes beyond possibility.

#3: democratic view. It’s possible to launch an enchanced cooperation, as planned, that is a fully legal solution. The formal introduction of the multi-speed Europe was the matter of time, what’s more, according to analysts, saving the euro currency appears to be the most important condition of saving the Union. So, nobody can be suprised. But also, nobody can force Europeans to be keen on being second class citizens.

Mr Orbán acts like he took the above into account, and now he carries out a cooperation with the Union and the enforcement of national interests at once, in a presentable way. This is what none of the Hungarian political leaders of the past could carry out since the democratic transition – including himself during the 1998-2002 term.

But today the Hungarian PM seems to possess the winning tactics.

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