Poland, Hungary, Slovakia: European comeback wanted
The European Union project has been recently challenged by international situations for which member states would have to stand all together, politically reflecting the values and ideals the European construction is supposed to be based on, in order to fulfil their role as a global player. Unfortunately, they have not always been able to appear as unite to the international community, as the ongoing refugee crisis tragically shows every day. One reason for this are the discrepancies between European governments’ political stands and the apparently nearly impossibility to find a consensus or an internal arrangement regarding important political topics. Particularly, in the central Europe region, the Polish, Hungarian and Slovakian governments showed in the last months a rather questionable political shift towards right-wing authoritarian populist attitudes and policies.
Governments of the Visegrad group are, as in other countries in Europe, politically and electorally put under pressure by the extreme right. The legislative election in Slovakia on March 5th, 2016 resulted in the populist self-defined social democrat Robert Fico to keep his first place, while two extreme right, respectively nationalist and neo-Nazi, parties entered the Parliament with more than 8% of the votes. The PiS party in Poland, that has been governing the country for one year, was democratically confirmed at the last legislative election in October 2015. In Hungary, the sovereignist
conservative Viktor Orban has been leading the country for 6 years. Populist parties came into power thanks to xenophobic, nationalistic and Eurosceptical discourses around the migration question.
From a strictly electoral perspective, all three governments are democratic. Nevertheless, their anti-liberalism and conservatism allows one to regard them as populist, whether on the questions of public morality, like in Poland where the already barely existing rights to abortion and sexual orientation is being challenged, economy, like in Slovakia where the government shows a really authoritative attitude, or politics, like in Hungary where the xenophobic rhetoric of Orban is backed up by an assumed democratic-authoritarian leading style.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the Rule of Law is being flouted. The Polish government put at risk the principles of separation of powers by taking over the media and the constitutional control by passing a law that makes it impossible for the constitutional Court to work. The European Council reacted by opening a procedure to check and secure the Rule of Law in Poland. While having shown a sincere will to move towards EU requirements in the past, the political shifts happening for a few years in the central European region are now threatening the political union between EU member states, while the concerned countries considerably benefit from European investments into their public sector.
The clear mutual advantages of a political and economic Union – while still waiting for a social one – will finally be put under high pressure by these populist, nationalist and conservative governments that ultimately encourage the comeback of nationalisms all over Europe and the weakening of the project for a common future. FYEG calls for the creation of a real European political space including
the Europeanisation of political debate at the European level, not allowing national governments to set the agenda
the creation and support to diffusion of European media and watchdogs
the federalisation of political parties
The state of play in the European Union requires an urgent reaction from EU authorities and member states, reminding partners of the principles the European construction was built on and committing to come back at the table to find common solutions to common challenges without stepping back to old national reflexes. The absence of such reactions would only lead to further legitimation of selfish attitudes from national governments, ultimately unravelling the political Union that we have been trying to develop in the last decades.