“Poland and Hungary object” – this is how countless newspaper headlines began in recent years. Whether it is climate protection, refugees, the budget or the rights of sexual minorities in the EU, projects often fail due to the alliance of nationalist governments in Budapest and Warsaw.
Viktor Orban in Hungary and the right-wing conservative government in Poland effectively had veto power in many EU votes. This must end.
Tusk – declared opposition to Orban
donald tusk, It is possible that Poland’s next prime minister will be an opponent of Orban. The former European Council president called for Orban’s Fidesz party to be excluded from the European People’s Party. During the recent election campaign in Hungary, he stood on a platform for Orban’s opponents. Tusk described the Hungarian Prime Minister’s policies as “dangerous” and “morally unacceptable.”
The change of power in Warsaw is particularly troubling for Orbán regarding Article VII procedures. This allows the EU to take action against members who violate core European values – such as undermining democracy or obstructing justice. At the end of this procedure, any EU member could be deprived of their voting rights.
Until now that was a theory. Important decisions in this EU procedure must be taken unanimously. Orban can always count on support from Warsaw. This support will not exist soon.
People react nervously in Budapest
The Hungarian government is now acting nervously. The Deputy Foreign Minister said on Polish election day that an opposition victory in Warsaw would lead to “unexpected consequences” for Hungary and would leave the country vulnerable.
Now one could argue that Orban has just gained a new ally: in neighboring Slovakia, Robert Fico, a left-wing nationalist and Orban admirer, will present his new government these days.
But Fico is not as powerful as right-wing conservatives have been in Warsaw recently. Unlike them, FICO relies on coalition partners. In fact, Orban considers his most important partner to be more moderate than him in foreign policy. Orban cannot rely on Slovakia to the same extent as he has so far relied on right-wing conservatives in Warsaw.
If a change of government actually occurs in Poland as expected, the space available for autocrats in the EU will become even narrower.
Eastern European correspondent
Roman Wenger is SRF’s Eastern Europe correspondent. From 2007 to 2018, he worked in various positions at Echo der Zeit, most recently as Director and Deputy Managing Editor.
“Typical entrepreneur. Lifelong beer expert. Hipster-friendly internet buff. Analyst. Social media enthusiast.”