EU Commissioner Has ‘Big Concerns’ About Hungary’s 2022 Ballot

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There are “big concerns” about the fairness of Hungary’s 2022 parliamentary election because of the erosion of the rule of law in the eastern European Union member state, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban is looking to secure a fourth consecutive four-year term next year in what’s shaping up to be the most competitive ballot since his return to power in 2010. International elections monitors said the 2014 and 2018 elections were free but not fair, citing Orban’s media dominance as well as the overlap of resources between the government and the ruling party.

“I have big concerns about elections in Hungary because I’m fully on the side of the Hungarian people,” Jourova, who is in charge of transparency and values at the EU executive, said during an online panel discussion on Wednesday organized by Central European University.

Orban has frequently clashed with the EU as he rewrote election rules, extended his influence over the courts and the media and reduced the autonomy of independent institutions. The EU is currently probing Hungary’s suspected rule-of-law violations under its Article 7 procedure, which can lead to the suspension of a member state’s voting right.

Last year, the EU also agreed to create a mechanism that will allow it to suspend billions of euros in funding to member states that breach the bloc’s norms in ways that undermine the trading bloc’s financial interests.

The Hungarian government, which sees the EU’s concerns as meddling in its internal affairs, has vowed to contest the mechanism’s legality at the European Court of Justice.

“For me the Hungarian situation is the most worrying one,” Jourova said. “In Hungary we see an ill democracy, not an illiberal democracy and I insist that this quite an appropriate assessment.”

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