Hungary’s Orbán under fire over call to disempower European Parliament

Sassoli condemns effort aimed at "dismantling" Parliament.

Hungary’s Orbán under fire over call to disempower European Parliament

Prominent members of the European Parliament reacted angrily over the weekend to calls by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to roll back the powers of the EU assembly.

“Only those who do not like democracy think of dismantling parliaments,” David Sassoli, the EP’s president posted on Twitter.

In a speech Saturday, Orbán called for rules to allow national parliaments to suspend the EU’s legislative process, if they find national competences have been infringed.

His calls to disempower the European Parliament came in a speech in which he said the EU’s newly launched Conference on the Future of Europe should be used to stop what he termed the “Sovietization” of the bloc.

“We want a democracy of democracies based on European nations,” Orbán said in a speech to mark 30 years since the departure of Soviet troops from Hungary. “We are nationally based democrats against empire-builders,” he claimed, according to the Infostart news site.

His speech also called for the term “ever closer union” to be deleted from the Treaty on European Union. 

Orbán regularly rails against the EU and European lawmakers are a favored target. In 2018, they triggered the EU’s Article 7 disciplinary procedure against Hungary, arguing Orbán’s government had damaged judicial independence, engaged in corruption, restricted freedom of expression and infringed minority and migrant rights, among other concerns.

“So Viktor Orbán wants to tie the hands of the European Parliament, like he already did with the Hungarian one, and free media, and courts and NGO’s and academics, and, and, and  …” tweeted Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian Prime Minister. 

“There is a pattern, and it leads all the way to a Putinesque dictatorship,” added Verhofstadt,  the European Parliament’s chair on the executive board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which held its first plenary session Saturday. 

Orbán’s government again clashed with the EU last week, after Hungary’s parliament approved a law banning the portrayal of homosexuality to under-18s.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen personally issued a rare rebuke, saying she was “very concerned” about the new law and adding that the Commission was “assessing if it breaches relevant EU legislation.”  

“I believe in a Europe which embraces diversity, not one which hides it from our children,” she wrote. 

Source : Politico EU More   

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John Bercow, former UK Commons speaker, defects to Labour

Ex-speaker calls Tories 'reactionary, populist, nationalistic.'

John Bercow, former UK Commons speaker, defects to Labour

John Bercow, the former speaker of the U.K.’s House of Commons and a Conservative party member since he was 17, has switched political allegiance and joined the opposition Labour party.

Bercow, who after 10 years as speaker was known well beyond the U.K.’s shores for his bellowing cry of “Order! Order!”, told the Observer:  “The conclusion I have reached is that this government needs to be replaced. The reality is that the Labour Party is the only vehicle that can achieve that objective. There is no other credible option.”

Bercow said he viewed the Conservative Party today as “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic.”

A Tory councilor since the mid-1980s and Conservative member of parliament from 1997, Bercow was elected speaker in 2009. Since the speaker is required to be an independent, he left the party then.

In the autumn of 2019, he stood down as speaker after his handling of heated Commons debates on Brexit raised his domestic and international profile. Some Brexiteers accused him of siding with the pro-EU camp. His final year in the post was clouded by accusations that he bullied staffers.

Bercow told the Observer he joined the Labour Party a few weeks ago because he shares its values of “equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand.”

While he acknowledged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s campaigning success, Bercow branded him a “lousy governor.”

“I don’t think he has any vision of a more equitable society, any thirst for social mobility or any passion to better the lot of people less fortunate than he is,” the former speaker said of Johnson. “I think increasingly people are sick of lies, sick of empty slogans, sick of a failure to deliver.”

In contrast, Labour leader Keir Starmer is “decent, honourable and intelligent,” Bercow said. However, Bercow acknowledged that “the jury is still out” on whether Starmer, whose party has struggled in recent by-elections, can bring Labour into government.

Source : Politico EU More   

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