European Union Technocrats go to Battle with Hungary’s Right-Wing

The opening battle in the struggle over Europe’s future may be starting in Budapest. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph explains:

“The EU said it had sent three letters of ‘Formal Notice’ over Hungary’s assault on the independence of the judiciary, the central bank, and the data protection ombudsman – the first step in “infringement proceedings”. The dispute could ultimately lead to loss of Hungary’s voting rights under Article 7 of EU treaty law.

‘We’ll use all our powers to make sure that Hungary complies with the rules of the EU,’ said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Mr Orbán said his country was the victim of ‘international leftists’ in Brussels. “

The standoff between Brussels and Budapest is not to be dismissed as a marginal European dispute. Hungary needs IMF and EU financing to stay afloat and Brussels is positioning itself as content to watch Orban’s government in Hungary sink if he doesn’t roll back his authoritarian challenge to the European neo-liberal consensus.

But the European Union technocrats aren’t just running up against Hungary’s authoritarian right-wing government. If the EU destabilizes Hungary -which letting Hungary go bankrupt would destabilize the country- there’s a far right force in politics ready and waiting to pick up where the Orban government left off and take the country fully into the politics of the radical right-wing.

This readiness of the far-right was displayed this past Saturday when thousands of supporters of the Jobbik party rallied in the capital against the European Union:

On top of two Jobbik members of parliament burning a European Union flag, supporters waved flags displaying the map of a “Greater Hungary”; a map expressing the ambitions of a right-wing nationalist movement with open territorial ambitions against its neighbors. This is from a party that in the past two election cycles increased its support from around  two percent to over sixteen percent. The confrontation between the European Union and the current Orban government may serve to catapult this Jobbik menace into power.

All the more alarming is the absence of the left, let alone the far left. The contest over Europe is between the neo-liberal technocrats, an authoritarian right, and possibly the far-right if movements like Jobbik keep up their momentum. There is no left in this fight to even weaken these forces, let alone assert that the workers and the poor should have an increased share in both say and wealth in society. Instead, we have Portuguese labor unions sitting helpless at a table with a right-wing government and employers as government and employers carve up labor rights and wages.

The neo-liberal technocrats are trying to maintain their hegemony being politically challenged only by the authoritarian right. The left looks set to be a mere spectator, possibly as neo-liberal forces concede ground to a far-right onslaught building strength in Eastern Europe.


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