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Normally I would not bother to read an article with “Hungary” in the headline, but any country that has a “widening rift” with the uber-Left European Union is worth a look. My curiosity was rewarded.
Although I do not pretend to know anything about the internal politics of Hungary or the particular policies being implemented there, I am not offering this post as a substantive critique of policies but, rather, as an example of how the Left condemns the very practices that the Left uses to agglomerate power and demonizes a conservative government.
First, the headline itself is misleading: “Hungary poised to widen rift with the west.” This title gives the impression that Hungary must be embarking on some kind of anti-Western program of fascism or authoritarianism that threatens its relationship with the West. When you read the article, however, it is clear that the conflict is entirely with the E.U. and the International Monetary Fund (with the typical self-righteous finger-pointing from the Obama Administration). Furthermore, the policies pursued by Budapest involve such horrible policies as— prepare yourself— a… flat… tax! Controls on the Hungarian central bank! Reduction in the overall number of members in parliament together with the redrawing of electoral districts that favor the party in power! Clearly, in the view of the Left, the dark night of oppression and economic insanity is descending.
Here is the lede:
Hungary is poised to drive another wedge into a rift with the European Union and international lenders when its parliament on Friday passes a controversial law limiting the independence of the country’s central bank.
The law is one of a package being rushed through before the end of the year that is prompting international concern about Hungary’s economic policies and a perceived erosion of democracy in this EU member state.
If you follow the link to the “economic policies” that are causing such concern in the EU and the IMF, you will find that it is a flat tax that the article claims is ruining government revenues.
The article continues to list the sins of the Hungarian government:
Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, wrote last week to Viktor Orban, prime minister, expressing concerns.
As well as the central bank law and a new flat tax rate that have been sharply criticised by the EU and the International Monetary Fund, other measures include reforms that critics warn will subject the judiciary to political interference and electoral changes that opponents say would entrench Mr Orban’s power for years to come.
“A number of constituencies have been reduced and redrawn in a way that, based on past voting patterns, clearly favours [Mr Orban’s centre-right party] Fidesz in future elections,” said Robert Laszlo, election specialist at Political Capital, a Budapest think-tank. Fidesz already enjoys a two-thirds majority in parliament.
“Mr Orban is trying to build up a new system completely in line with his power interests. It will be extremely difficult to change these laws,” said Andras Biro Nagy of Policy Solutions, a Budapest consultancy.
The slew of legislation has provoked modest protests in Budapest, including one last week where Ferenc Gyurcsány, former prime minister, was briefly arrested.
Imagine, a law that makes the judiciary accountable to elected officials. In the U.S., we have a judiciary that increasingly sees itself as completely unaccountable to the people and the final arbiter of every law, regulation and even personal behaviors of the people. This was never intended by the U.S. Constitution and it is creating havoc in our society and political system. Maybe Hungary is on to something.
Notice, too, that the EU, IMF and Hillary Clinton criticize the redrawing of election districts that favor the party in power. Lord knows that the Democrats in the U.S. would never try anything as sleazy as that. Here in Maryland, the overwhelmingly Democrat legislature and Democrat governor are putting the finishing touches on new congressional districts that intentionally dilute conservative voters with reliable Democrat voters. I am not shocked at the practice– it is part of the spoils that go along with elections and demographics, but the posturing of the Left in calling such practices a threat to democracy in Hungary when they practice those very things themselves is disgusting.
It is worth noting that this “slew of legislation” that has the Left up in arms has not resulted in mass riots or social upheaval. No, the legislation has “provoked modest protests.” When the Left calls a left-leaning protest “modest” you can be sure that less than 50 people showed up. Any more than that and the Left trumpets it as “broad-based” or “masses.”
This next example is hilarious:
Mrs Clinton also criticised use of a new media law to prevent broadcasts by Klubradio, a popular talk-radio station that is frequently critical of the government.
Hungary’s media council, which took the decision, said the Klubradio affair had become “a consciously planned, premeditated, sheer political provocation” supported by prominent leftwing and liberal public figures, along with “members of foreign diplomatic corps”.
Take this in. Hillary Clinton is criticizing a new law in Hungary that would prevent broadcasts by what the Hungarian government called a left-wing, political provocation– essentially subversive broadcasting. This is the same Hillary Clinton that supported, while in the U.S. Senate, efforts by the left wing of the Democrat Party to try to force the likes of Rush Limbaugh off the air by reinstating the “Fairness Doctrine” in American media laws.
This is always the way it is with the Left whenever they are confronted with a government anywhere that attempts to take a conservative direction. The flat tax is a dangerous fiscal policy. Electoral districts that favor conservative candidates is a threat to democracy while gerrymandering for Leftist candidates is perfectly alright.
The article further complains that this “slew of legislation” was rushed through at the last minute before Hungary’s new Constitution takes effect on January 1, 2012. Hmmmm… does this seem like a familiar tactic? Obamacare? Frank-Dodd financial reform? TARP? The 2009 Stimulus? When the Left has a majority they have no qualms about using unprecedented or even extra-constitutional methods to ram through their unpopular laws, but they condemn a center-right government that passes laws prior to the effective date of a new constitution, even though there is no evidence that the people of Hungary did not support these measures (unlike the Stimulus and Obamacare).
Here is the typical way the Left likes to portray those who implement policies that the Left dislikes:
But western countries and international bodies have become concerned over moves by his government seen as removing democratic checks and balances.
“It now seems all too clear that Viktor Orban’s government is determined to take the country in a direction that is far from the core values on which the European Union is built,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit and other leaders of a Green-liberal bloc in the European parliament in a letter to José Barroso, European Commission president, last week.
That’s it, then: “the core values.” Expect to hear this from the Left in the 2012 U.S. elections, regardless of the GOP candidate. The GOP will be trying to implement policies that threaten America’s “core values,” which, translated, means dependency upon Big Government, Big Spending, voter fraud among Democrat constituencies and Government Health Care. The first step in demonizing an opponent is to question their commitment to “core values,” as you, of course, define them. Expect to hear from the Left such catcalls as “authoritarian policies” or hints of Nazi sympathies with regard to Viktor Orban. Classic Saul Alinsky.
As I said before, I do not know whether the actual policies pursued by Hungary are truly good policies or not. On the surface, control of the central bank, a flat tax and redrawing electoral districts seem to be good policies. But the fact that the Left (in the form of the EU, IMF and the Obama Administration) has bothered to condemn these policies is strong evidence that Hungary is on the Right track.