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Antoaneta Dimitrova in Nu.nl about EU and rebellious member states

Hungary belongs to the EU, but democracy is being seriously and systematically threatened there. Does the rest of the EU have the means and the political will to deal with member states that are out of step? Antoaneta Dimitrova, professor of 'Comparative Governance' at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) talks about the power base of Fidesz in NU.nl.

The right-wing populist government of Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán, who was re-elected early in April, and his party Fidesz  put freedom, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms at stake. That is the conclusion of European Union MP Sargentini in her report that was presented on Thursday, 26 April 2018.  She advocates that the European Council of government leaders uses the most severe criminal procedure of the EU, a so-called article 7 procedure, to correct Hungary. However, the question is whether there will be enough political will in Brussels to rap Poland and Hungary on the knuckles.

'Mobster state'

Dimitrova thinks Fidesz has established a very interesting government system. “Not exactly autocratic, but it is what colleagues in Hungary call a ‘mafia state’. The problem is not that freedom is directly restricted, but that the economic and political powers are  merged and being concentrated in networks close to Orban and his Fidesz-party.”

The power base of Fidesz, the Hungarian countryside, is not only being sustained by government money and European subsidies. Companies with friendly relationships with Fidesz settle in these regions and offer employment opportunities. Thus people are kept economically dependent, says Dimitrova. The companies concerned are often even directly owned by party members. “The employer knows who works there and tries to make people vote for Fidesz in all possible ways.”

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