On 1 January Hungary's new Constitution came into effect which, amongst other things, entrenches the power
of the current ruling party, FIDESZ, and enshrines social issues such as the right of the unborn child. Many so-called cardinal laws have been passed in Parliament which requires a 2/3 majority to change.
The president of the EU, José Barroso wrote
to the Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orbán, requesting a rethink of two such laws which impact the political independence to the Central Bank. This was
by the Hungarian government.
Economically things are tough with Hungary requesting
additional IMF assistance but they withdrew
from informal talks, citing concern over the independence of the central bank. Hungary's debt was downgraded
to junk status with rating agencies citing concerned at the relationship with the IMF.
There is rising concern at government control over the media with journalists been dismissed
after taking part in a hunger strike. The popular liberal radio station, Klubrádió, has been taken off the air
by the government-controlled Media Council. Government controlled media even digitally-removed the image of a former top member of the judiciary. Poking fun
[YouTube link, sub-titles in English] by some journalists at the current situation in Hungary also resulted in the banning
of a popular internal portal from reporting on Parliament.
International criticism is mounting: The Guardian cautions
against the rising xenophobic, right-wing nationalism of Orbán, while The Washington Post laments
the return of autocracy to Hungary. Paul Krugman of the New Times is likewise concerned
at recent developments and Der Spiegel is very concerned
at the growing power of the right-wing on cultural matters such as the appointment of the anti-semitic
István Csurka as head of the National Theatre.
Hilary Clinton is worried
[PDF] at recent developments, as are US Congress members.
In Hungary, protests are mounting too. Some MP's, including the former Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány were recently detained
following large protests
outside Parliament. Protests continue
into the New Year.
Those wishing to see what Victor Orbán thinks of international and domestic criticisms, check out his views
in a recent
interview. Apparently, he is still looking at things.