The Hungarian government is in fact bringing real democratic change to the country – something that didn't happen 20 years ago, Hungarian MEP György Schöpflin of the ruling Fidesz party told EURACTIV in an interview..
Schöpflin believes there was no real overhaul in Hungarian politics after the fall of Communism in 1989, and said Fidesz had a "once-in-a-generation – perhaps once-in-a-century – opportunity to recast the entire system of political, social and economic governance".
As it enjoys a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, the centre-right party can pass new laws at will. Since it won the elections in April, the party has amended the country's constitution ten times.
"Radical reform is very odd coming from a centre-right party – conservatives don't do radical, but sometimes they have to. In a way, the change of regimes in '89/'90 in Hungary was too easy, too smooth, there was no break," stated Schöpflin.
"I think that in a sense is what Fidesz is trying to do, to make that break, to introduce a new democratic system. The past 20 years have not been quite as democratic as they could have been," the MEP added.
He accused the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), in power from 1994-1998 and 2002-2010, of governing as though the one-party rule of the communist days still existed.
New media and tax laws
Hungary assumed the six-month rotating EU presidency on 1 January, but since day one controversial legislation recently adopted has strained relations with the European Commission. In particular, the EU executive is investigating whether a contentious media law and 'special taxes' imposed on foreign businesses are compatible with EU law.
Schöpflin sees the media law as an "outer wall" to prevent newspapers from being irresponsible and said that it is merely a consolidation of various media regulation practices in other EU countries.
As for the crisis tax on foreign companies, the MEP responded that various multinationals ‘"did very well out of Hungary for a number of years" and should therefore make contributions to the country during less prosperous times.
Budapest and Brussels have clashed several times since Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejected austerity measures, cut ties with the International Monetary Fund and opted for unorthodox fiscal steps to cut the budget deficit and boost economic growth.