By Cristina Maza.
Despite the Nobel Peace Prize the European Union was awarded in 2012 for over six decades of work promoting peace, reconciliation, democracy, and human rights on the continent, many critics have balked at the assertion that the European Union is a beacon of peace. Yet few would imagine that modern-day Europe could slip back into fascism or experience the type of xenophobia and violence that plagued the continent in the 1930s and 40s. Over the past several years, however, the Hungarian government has demonstrated authoritarian tendencies and a tolerance for xenophobia and discrimination that has set off alarm bells across Europe.
In March 2013 European leaders expressed outrage at a constitutional amendment approved by a parliamentary majority held by the Fidesz party, also known as the Hungarian Civic Alliance. The amendment weakened the Constitutional Court, harmed the free press, made political dissent in Hungary more difficult, and promoted nationalist values that encouraged far-right elements at the expense of minorities. It also tightened laws regarding election campaigns, education, homelessness, and family rights.
The country’s Constitutional Court previously deemed several of the provisions unconstitutional, but this body has now been severely weakened and was unable to alter the facts on the ground. While Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claims the amendment is necessary in order to eradicate Communism’s legacy from Hungary, critics are concerned that the country’s system of checks and balances has been irrevocably destroyed and Orbán’s Fidesz party placed firmly in the seat of power.
Throughout the European Union, many politicians are beginning to debate what the best course of action should be if a E.U. member state turns authoritarian. Not only does the new amendment ensure that the country’s opposition lacks real decision making power, but anti-Semitism, hate speech, and racist attacks on ethnic minorities are becoming the norm in Orbán-ruled Hungary as the rhetoric of the radical right-wing Jobbik party gains acceptance.
The Hungarian case raises important questions about the …
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