Hungary, democracy and the EU

 

Sir, – In his scolding of The Irish Times (Letters, October 13th), the Hungarian ambassador Manno István states that Hungarians made clear decisions about their future in their country’s last three consecutive parliamentary elections.

What he fails to mention is that a decade ago, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz party’s landslide victory in the 2010 election allowed them to rewrite the constitution and change voting rules to directly benefit that party.

Consequently, in the two subsequent elections, the Fidesz party maintained its majority, despite receiving less than 50 per cent of the popular vote.

In 2018, the European Parliament triggered Article Seven of the Treaty on European Union against Hungary, and earlier this year the European Commission was asked to consider activating it again – a mechanism where the EU identifies a member state persistently breaching the EU’s founding values.

MEPs and many others are concerned about judicial independence, freedom of expression, increased government influence over the media and the rights of minorities, among other issues, in Hungary under Mr Orbán’s rule.

The emergency measures imposed earlier this year by the Orbán regime were totally incompatible with European values, according to the European Parliament. The emergency laws have now been replaced with a “state of medical crisis”, a system that allows the government to continue issuing a wide range of decrees with little parliamentary oversight.

The ambassador is concerned that readers of The Irish Times aren’t receiving all the necessary information to be able to form an unbiased opinion. I disagree. Perhaps he should be more concerned with the erosion of democracy in Hungary. – Yours, etc,

JOHN McHUGH,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The Hungarian embassy takes exception to a description of Hungary’s prime minster as a “troll” as being “blatantly inappropriate” and “unacceptable”.

Name-calling is of course never conducive to proper public debate.

In this vein, perhaps the embassy can take a cold hard look at the shocking language used by its own prime minister, describing asylum seekers as “poison”, “Muslim invaders”, and his assertion that “all the terrorists are basically migrants”.

The embassy could reflect on whether these disheartening comments are consistent with, as the embassy puts it, a country with “over a thousand years of Christian heritage”, and “helping to build the backbone of European values”. – Yours, etc,

RONAN Ó FATHAIGH,

Amsterdam,

The Netherlands.