I’m in Budapest, Hungary’s capital, where I’ve been meeting with activists, journalists, diplomats, academics, all of whom have been describing to me Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s attacks on democracy. He’s been doing everything he can to undermine the checks and balances on his power; by compromising judges, restricting journalists, undermining civil society, impeding investigations into corruption, all in the name of his so-called illiberal democracy.
Now, how’s he able to get away with this? A big part of the problem is that his political party, Fidesz, is a member of the European Parliament’s main center-right political alliance, the European People’s Party, the EPP. And frankly, the EPP has been more concerned with keeping power by maintaining Fidesz’s votes than it has been in upholding the democratic principles that it supposedly believes in. Now, maybe that’s going to come to an end. Some dozen EPP political parties have said, It’s time to end this charade. It’s time to either suspend or expel Fidesz.
A vote is scheduled for March 20th. Now, how that vote comes out is mainly going to come down to a handful of political parties, foremost Germany’s CDU and CSU, and France’s Les Républicains. Are these parties going to stand up for democratic values, or are they going to continue to allow this trojan horse within the tent of the European Union’s democracy? We’ll see.