Europe’s Big Freedom Fail

2016. március 26. 09:40

Christian Caryl
Foreign Policy

It's time for the European Union to get serious about enforcing democratic standards.

Thee European Union doesn’t give a damn about democracy. Yeah, sure, they keep saying they do — and they’ve been saying it again in the wake of this week’s terrorist attack in Brussels. But their actions are sending a distinctly different message.

Exhibit A: the shameful deal that European officials concluded with Turkey last week. The EU wanted Ankara to help it stanch the flow of refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom have passed through Turkey on their way West. To make this happen, the Europeans promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a lot of money and a renewed promise of future membership in the EU. The Turks were happy to oblige — for a very high price. (…)

Even worse, European leaders are sending this signal at a moment when democracy is looking increasingly shaky within the ranks of its own members.

Just take Hungary. Two years ago, Prime Minister Viktor Orban publicly declared that he wanted to transform his country into an »illiberal state,« holding up Erdogan’s Turkey and Vladimir Putin’s Russia as examples. And that’s pretty much what Orban has been doing since he took office in 2010.

He’s packed the civil service and the courts with his followers, changed election laws to help his party keep its hold on power, and cracked down on civil society organizations. Like his authoritarian idols in Russia and Turkey, he’s worked hard to hollow out freedom of the press. An authoritarian right-winger who calls loudly for the defense of Europe’s »Christian values« against migrants and Muslims, he’s virtually done away with any opposition. The only serious political competitor he has left, the Jobbik Party, is even farther to the right than he is. (The photo above shows Jobbik supporters demonstrating in Warsaw last November.)

 

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