MEPs want EU to consider freezing Hungary funding after OSCE finds unfair playing field in elections

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Two members of the European parliament called on the European Commission to launch the “rule of law conditionality mechanism” against Hungary, a legal process that would see Budapest deprived of billions of euro in EU funding. Speaking at the European Parliament in the wake of PM Viktor ORrban’s resounding victory in the legislative elections, MEPs expressed shock and disappointment at Orbán’s victory speech, where he hit out at “opponents”, including a what he referred as “Brussels bureaucrats”, but also Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Putin has immediately congratulated Orban on his victory. Rightist leaders such as Farage, Le Pen and Salvini also celebrated his victory in an election which according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported that the Hungarian vote was “marred by the absence of a level playing field”.

Green German MEP Daniel Freund said he expected the commission to trigger the rule of law mechanism within days. “My understanding is that the triggering of the conditionality against Hungary could happen, possibly as early as this week,” he told reporters. “The financial pressure will start to be felt rather quickly if the commission would move,” he said adding, even if the EU process took months to unfold, it could be harder for Budapest to borrow money.

Adding pressure on Twitter, Freund implied that Hungary was receiving some kind of special deal by Putin. “Hungary is paying exactly the market price for gas. The talk about a special price was not a mistake by Putin (as some suspected at the time). It was a lie that helped Orban’s election campaign”, he insisted.

Petri Sarvamaa, a Finnish MEP hailing from the EPP Group said that based on his understanding, the commission was going to trigger the process within days, but added that Hungary posed far deeper questions. Europe could be approaching a historic moment, he said. “We are facing existential issues. These are totalitarian authoritarian regimes vis-a-vis the democratic world and Orbán seems to be willing to be part of that [first] camp.”

“We appeased Viktor Orbán … and we, the union, appeased Vladimir Putin. And if we continue on this path.. We will find ourselves obsolete.”

The OSCE said that “contestants were largely able to campaign freely, but while competitive, the campaign was highly negative in tone and characterized by a pervasive overlap between the ruling coalition and the government”.

“The lack of transparency and insufficient oversight of campaign finances,” according to the observers, “further benefited the governing coalition” while “bias and lack of balance in monitored news coverage and the absence of debates between major contestants significantly limited the voters’ opportunity to make an informed choice.”

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