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Hungary’s opposition asks EU to protect democracy

July 29, 2014 GMT

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — An opposition group said Tuesday it would ask the European Union to step up its oversight of democracy in Hungary after the prime minster said he wants to transform the country from a liberal democracy into an “illiberal state.”

Viktor Szigetvari, co-chairman of the E14-PM alliance, said that the group wants to draw the attention of the incoming European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, to the “constantly deteriorating quality of Hungarian democracy,” especially concerning press freedom and non-governmental groups.


“Serious and active means are needed to put an end to the demolition of Hungarian democracy,” Szigetvari said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Saturday that the 2008 financial crisis showed that liberal democracies would likely no longer remain competitive and pointed to Singapore, China and Russia as successful role models.

“We want to build a workfare society ... which is willing to bear the odium to declare that it is not liberal in character,” Orban said in a speech in the Romanian town of Baile Tusnad.

Since 2010, Orban, whose Fidesz party narrowly retained its two-thirds parliamentary majority in April, has been centralizing executive power, weakening democratic checks and balances and increasing the role of the state to the detriment of the private sector.

The EU has successfully demanded some alterations to disputed legislation like the media law and the church law, but critics say many of their most damaging aspects remain unchanged.

Orban said the new state structure would “while of course respecting the values of Christianity, freedom and human rights, once again make the Hungarian community competitive.”

“The Hungarian nation is not a mere pile of individuals but a community which needs to be organized, strengthened and built,” he said.

Orban said that his government’s efforts to reform Hungary were being obstructed by conflicts with the EU and by “paid political activists” in civic groups financed from abroad.