Saturday, December 24, 2011

More about Hungary

I do apologize if the fate of this small and far-off country is beginning to bore readers. I promise to get on to some other EU member soon. However, if things go seriously belly-up in another one of the member states (and this time we shall see no resignations) that will have an effect on the EU, which, in turn, will have an effect on Britain. So, we had better be prepared.

At the time of the negotiations with the former Communist states of Eastern Europe, one of the things I wrote against it was that their political structures are quite fragile and economic problems that will almost inevitably follow their accession to the EU may well unbalance them. Is this what is happening in Hungary? The omens, as I said before, are not good.

Walter Russell Mead, not a man who can be accused of leftward leanings has an even stronger piece on his blog in which he wonders whether Europe is not approaching the situation of the thirties. Well, actually, no, as the situation today cannot be what it was in the thirties but the constant ratcheting of EU powers at the expense of any accountable national government together with severe economic problems is producing the result many of us predicted but one that was not supposed to happen under the benign gaze of Brussels: the growth of a more extreme and unpleasant form of nationalism.

Both Radio Free Europe and the BBC report arrests of opposition MPs who were protesting against the passage of  constitutionally important laws in haste on the last day before Christmas. (A favourite ploy in many countries, one may add.)


  1. After the Irish first voted the "wrong" way in an EU referendum, the government changed the rules by ramming legislation through all stages in both houses, the day before the Dail rose for the Christmas recess. "Colleagues" in other countries will have taken note of how easy this was. As a result, the Referendum Commissioner no longer had the duty of putting the arguments both for and against any proposed change. Large funding by commercial interests and other bodies was permitted. Individual donations to campaign groups were restricted but "persons" were free to use their own money.

    Limited and PLC companies are "persons" for this purpose. So, in the second Lisbon referendum, Ryanair (for instance) spent 500,000 campaigning for a "yes" and received an exemption from normal monopolies legislation to permit it to take over another airline.

    Pro referendum campaigners, please note!

  2. @Helen & Edward: Same here in Sweden. Govt proposal of changes to our Constitution to make it conistent with the already accepted Niece treaty was handed out to our MPs after most had already left for Christmas holidays (2001). Added to that was the fact that any suggestions of ammendments had to be handed in to the Speaker's office the same day as the new session started.

    Hungary: If it falls - financially it is the high road to Austria, and Austria is very involved with Italy's largest banks....In short Hungary may be the pebble that finally makes the euro (and the EU?) crash.

    PS: I stopped using Ryanair after the second Irish Lisbon referendum!

    PPS: Merry Christmas!

  3. The Contrarian Hungarian

    Here's an interesting little Hungarian blog in English which includes a copy of Barroso's letter to Orban.

  4. Well, indeed, I did have the legislation for the second Irish referendum in mind when I mentioned that this is not an unknown tactic in other countries. That does not alter the fact that the developments in Hungary are more than a little worrying and not because they might bring the whole project down. It will be an interesting year.

    Sue, thank you.

    Merry Christmas to all of you.