Orbán to host Polish PM and Italian right-wing leader in Budapest

By !!444!!! Insight Hungary*

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will host his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, and former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini in Budapest Thursday to discuss a potential right-wing alliance on the European level, Orbán’s press secretary confirmed Tuesday.

Orbán announced on March 19 that he had been in contact with the Eurosceptic politicians following Fidesz’s resignation from the center-right European People’s Party the previous day, leading to speculation that a new far-right political force was in the making. 

Now without a caucus in the European Parliament, Fidesz is seeking alliances on the European level, and Orbán’s meeting with Morawiecki, of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, and Salvini of Italy’s Lega, could signal the beginning of an effort to draw those parties into a new right-wing caucus in the EU legislature. 

Currently, Poland’s ruling PiS is the largest member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), a nationalist grouping of parties that also includes Brothers of Italy, Spain’s Vox, and, formerly, the United Kingdom’s Conservatives. Salvini’s Lega dominates the hard-right Identity and Democracy, whose caucus includes Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland and France’s National Rally under Marine Le Pen.

The two European groupings have been divided over a number of issues, most notably their differing approaches to relations with Russia. While anti-Russian parties from Central Europe dominate in the ECR, Salvini and Le Pen maintain close ties to Moscow and have been accused of taking Russian money to fund their campaigns. Furthermore, Orbán has in the past rejected the prospect of working with Le Pen.

However unlikely, if the European Parliament delegates of the ECR (61), ID (76) and Fidesz (12) were to join into a single caucus, it would make them the second-largest in the legislature with 149.  

European Commissioner for Human Rights blasts Hungary for undermining media freedom

“It is high time for Hungary to restore journalistic and media freedoms,” the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovi?, wrote in a memorandum published Tuesday.

The document, which condemned Hungary’s government for having “systematically undermined independent and professional journalism,” was the product of online consultations with the Hungarian authorities, national human rights structures, and representatives of Hungary’s civil society and media community held between 29 January and 4 February 2021.

A summary of the memorandum can be read here.

Mijatovi? wrote that the government’s distribution of state advertising in media outlets was “based on political allegiances,” and that “the Hungarian Media Council, whose members are all chosen by the ruling party, have dismantled the level playing field for the media and curbed freedom of expression in Hungary.”

“The effects are noticeable across Hungarian society, including in relation to academic freedoms and culture,” she continued, a reference to recent government efforts to reshuffle the leadership structure in Hungary’s largest universities by placing them under the control of government-appointed committees

The Commissioner also criticized the professionalism of public service and pro-government media, and the “growing obstructionism and targeted interference with the work of the independent media and investigative journalists.” She called on authorities to recognize the threat hate speech against journalists represents to society as a whole and to publicly condemn all incidents of it. 

The state of emergency called in response to the coronavirus pandemic, she wrote, “led to a striking chilling effect on judges and public officials, on civil society organizations engaged in the defense of human rights, and on marginalized groups.”

In a lengthy response, the Hungarian government wrote that it was “disappointed that the memorandum is based on presumptions and allegations instead of facts,” and alleged that the document “extensively relies on a handful, but well known government critical NGOs’ analysis and online news portal articles, which raise doubts with regard to the objectivity of the memorandum.”


*!!444!!! InsightHungary, is one of the few independent media beyond the control of autocrat Viktor Orbán. 


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Hungarian and Polish PMs to meet Italy’s League leader to discuss new alliance

They will discuss creating an alliance involving the League, Orban’s governing Fidesz party and Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. Fidesz quit the main pan-European center-right bloc, the European People’s Party, earlier this month, two years after it was suspended for policies criticized by mainstream conservatives as authoritarian.Orban’s nationalist policies have long been widely seen as a better fit with smaller European blocs to the right of the EPP – such as the eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group that includes Poland’s PiS, or the right-wing Identity and Democracy (ID) group that includes France’s National Rally and Italy’s League: