A severe blow to the Orbán government: The Tavares report is accepted by the LIBE Commission

After less than a day of very hard work getting everything installed and tweaked on my new computer I’m up and running with only minor temporary inconveniences. So, it is time to return to my daily routine of  monitoring the Hungarian media. Today I’ll concentrate on the Tavares report that was prepared for a vote in the European Parliamentary Committee of  Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

You may recall that I left off with the approximately 500 amendments to the draft report, of which about 200 were submitted by Fidesz MEPs and a Slovak and a Romanian member of parliament of Hungarian nationality. The vote was scheduled for June 19.

Given the enormous number of amendments, Hungarian newspapers predicted that the session would be very long, taken up with debating each of the submitted amendments, and they seemed to be surprised that after only two or three hours it was all over. They also emphasized that the committee was highly divided on the issue and so the vote one way or the other would be very close. That prediction also turned out to be erroneous. Of the 58 people present (the committee has 60 members) 31 voted for the report, 19 against it, and 8 abstained. I wouldn’t call that exactly close. In fact, observers in Brussels were somewhat surprised at the outcome. They expected a much closer vote, considering that half of the members come from either the European People’s Party (EPP) or the group of conservatives and reformers.

Kinga Gál (Fidesz), one of the deputy chairmen of LIBE, immediately announced that it was a lie that some EPP members voted for the Tavares report, adding that a few of them abstained. But the numbers don’t add up. Someone from that group had to endorse the report. After all, there were 29 right-of-center MEPs present. But even Fidesz MEPs had to admit that, in spite of very heavy lobbying, they failed to alter the text of the original proposal in any significant way. Most of the Fidesz amendments were thrown out.

One substantive suggestion came from the chairman of LIBE, Juan Fernando López, who proposed some additional text. He suggested that a serious investigation of the new Hungarian election laws be undertaken and that the Office of Human Rights actually monitor the forthcoming election. Quite a blow for a member country of the European Union. A first.

It seems that some Hungarian MEPs felt compelled to make a scene. I guess nobody who knows anything about Krisztina Morvai (Jobbik) will be terribly surprised to learn that she managed to wreak havoc in the committee meeting. Morvai is not a member of LIBE, she was there only as a spectator. Just before Chairman López called for a final vote, she interrupted the proceedings. She  denied the legality of the procedures followed by the committee and held up a poster reading: “The European Union is a dictatorship.” López warned her that “the European Parliament is not a circus.”

The tooth lion of the Chain Bridge, Budapest / commons.wikipedia.org

The toothless lion of the Chain Bridge, Budapest commons.wikipedia.org

As it turned out, some members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats were convinced that Morvai was a Fidesz MEP; after all, her arguments in defense of the Hungarian government’s position were identical to those articulated by Enikő Győri, undersecretary in charge of European Union Affairs, except Győri used milder language. She called the report “deeply biased” and claimed that even the report’s facts don’t stand up to scrutiny. The committee discarded corrections of factual errors that EPP members submitted to the committee. Therefore, the Hungarian government still cannot subscribe to the report’s conclusions. She contended that the report is a political document that was heavily influenced by party politics. After all, she claimed, European parliamentary elections will be held next year and therefore it was predictable that the split in the committee was entirely along party lines. As we have seen, Győri is not exactly reliable on this point. Her verdict was that “the committee clearly overstepped its authority.”

The Fidesz MEPs went even further. They announced point blank that the Tavares report’s acceptance by the LIBE commission has “neither legal, nor budgetary, nor economic consequences.” The same is true of the possible adoption of the report by the full plenary session of the European Parliament sometime in July. One could ask: if the European Parliament is such a toothless lion, what on earth is the Fidesz delegation doing in Brussels? Why do they even bother to participate in the useless activities of the European Parliament?

As for the Tavares report, it is no more than “a party dictate of the European Left.” As far as the Fidesz delegation is concerned, this document is simply unacceptable. In any case, it is the end of the excessive deficit procedure that really matters and that was approved by Ecofin today. The delegation also expressed its optimism concerning a satisfactory resolution to the Hungarian government’s debate surrounding the fourth amendment to the new Hungarian constitution which, they are certain, will end in Hungary’s favor. I find this last prediction just a bit premature considering the very strong condemnation of the latest constitutional amendments by the Venice Commission, which is comprised of internationally renowned constitutional lawyers.

There is no question that the adoption of the Tavares report is a severe blow to the Hungarian government. The answers referencing bias, party politics, and the European Parliamentary election next year sound hollow, especially if one takes the trouble to read the Tavares report or the opinions of the Venice Commission.

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26 comments

  1. The Hungarian MEPs need hearing aids, and an urgent brain transplant.
    They are anti-Hungarian. They hate the decent nonFidesz Hungarians.
    They hate the rest of Europe, too.
    The Kinga Gals are a shame to humanity.

  2. The dog with the glasses is the only good part of the posting. When an EU report does not permit fact checking, then it is like a blog.that also does not get fact checked. I am just enjoying calling folks Haters by one whos posting is dripping from hatemongering. What a “civilized” gang. Of course a group of animals is also a pride……

  3. Dan :
    What are consequences of LIBE backing the Taverez report? Does it matter?

    Of course not. But it is part of the extreme left tactic to advertise the irrelevant decisions of irrelevant, malignant, and totally clueless “liberal” piles as groundbreaking news that could turn anything around. But in fact they can’t even turn a dead ant around.
    And as long as they cannot hack and coup the government from abroad (they wish they could) and as long as it’s the Hungarians who vote and not those interested in feeding on us, they do not matter.

  4. I seriously doubt the Magyar Mafia has lost much sleep over this, so saying it’s a “severe” blow is overegging the pudding.

    The voting figures are interesting though in that there are by my reckoning there 26 EPPers and 3 from the stridently Euro sceptic UK Conservative grouping on the committee. If they’d all kept to the Magyar Nemzet script and voted for the Fuhrer then it would have been indeed close.

    Probably Orban’s media whores assumed, as is the case on the Hungarian parliament, they would all leave their sense of democratic deceny at the door when participating in this kind of vote. A 1/3 of the EPP think he is an embarrassment to their grouping.

    That’s mildly interesting but in terms of the struggle to topple the regime, probably not that important.

  5. One thing is obvious: Fidesz people have bad manners. And there is an interesting parallel to nazi times in Germany: Many Germans had no real idea of what nazi ideology was all about, but they noticed that they were rude and couldn’t handle fork and knife. Just this observation was enough to put them off.

    As for the European Parliament’s power: It’s influence is growing and the power will follow as the calls for more democratic legitimation within the EU grow louder. A carefully researched and drafted report as the Tavares report and the exemplary way it was moved through the various stages of deliberation will not fail to have its effect in the long run. Never mind the wailings of Joe Simon, Louis Kovach and the other trolls.

  6. @JohnnyBoy

    ” … irrelevant decisions of irrelevant, malignant, and totally clueless “liberal” piles … they can’t even turn a dead ant around … it’s the Hungarians who vote and not those interested in feeding on us, they do not matter.”

    Thank you for yet another respectful, illuminating and helpful contribution – your words regarding the institutions (and their associated committees) that Hungarians willingly joined (with the full approval of Fidesz), benefit hugely from and regularly help to democratically elect, are consistently wise, convincing and (most of all) constructive.

  7. @Dan:
    In procedural terms a report is adopted only if and when the plenary adopts it. The decision of the LIBE committee allows the report to go to plenary. I think the debate is tabled on Wednesday 3 July in the afternoon and the vote the day after. You can check it on the EP´s website. MEPs can still table amendments and I guess there will be a couple of them. All this will be webstreamed but you’d rather connect in advance. Last time the EP´s site was blocked…
    Whether it matters is difficult to say as legally there is nothing binding. Politically, if adopted in plenary it will be difficult to pretend that it´s the text of “balliberális” partial people.

  8. Expecting that Orbán & Co will be ashamed, seems rather far fetched, wishful thinking at most – mine included.
    You see, when someone has no concept of moral, has no idea, what really means being European, never will be bothered by some or other Parliamentary Committee, unless their decision has consequences of personal effect on him directly.
    The fact, that it effects the whole country – by discouraging foreign investment, to name one – only provide further excouse for the hardship what the people must endure and reason to keep up with his preposterous “freedom fight”.
    As long as we don’t see their voting right revoked – for example – Orbán will go on as nothing happened.

  9. @ Spectator

    “…..has no idea, what really means being European….”

    I’m afraid that you must teach these things and Hungarians have not been taught. Far from it:
    by church, state, and school…the push has always been to ignore out-of-country information and ideas.

    The other week I was at a famous spa in Budapest, people close to one another so that I eventually fell into a conversation with a middle-aged couple who were teachers. They decried the state of affairs in Hungary: ” Hungarians outside of the country were ‘better Hungrians'” apparently. Some minutes later, I put for this question: “Is it better to be good Europeans or good Hungarians?” Of course, they vehemently proclaimed that one must be a good Hungarian first. “But what about all the support Hungary gets from the EU?” I asked.
    The answer surprised me: “Why we’re owed that! After all, we stopped the Turks!!”

    Now, try fighting that mindset….

  10. @Petofi1
    “Now, try fighting that mindset….”

    No, thanks!
    Looks like not much happened in this front since the Middle Ages, anyway.

    Recently I tend to think, that they’ve indeed got what they deserve…
    Then again, its a damn shame, that in 2013 people could be brainwashed like this, particularly after the horrid experiences of the previous century.

    Darwin may have been wrong: evolution can go backwards, after all, at least in Hungary…

  11. Readers, the electricity and natural gas prices will once again be decreased by at least 10% in the fall. (This was announced today). (Oh, didn’t the commies actually increase the utility prices, by say 70% during those eight years?)

    I might add, if needed, then once again the prices will be decreased in the the spring. I mean, if the people want that, then it’s the politician’s job to deliver. He is there to serve the People.

    And this is just the utility prices.

    So, Tavares and the EU can procedure the hell out of the this report, but the Hungarian voters will adore Orbán and his pals.

    Orbán brings Nirvana to Hungary. Sure, he is not perfect, but what the hell, no politician is perfect.

    Remember the example about the corrupt (at least rumoured so, since no court cases show it actually exists) and the stupid…

  12. Cukimuki :
    Readers, the electricity and natural gas prices will once again be decreased by at least 10% in the fall. (This was announced today). (Oh, didn’t the commies actually increase the utility prices, by say 70% during those eight years?)
    I might add, if needed, then once again the prices will be decreased in the the spring. I mean, if the people want that, then it’s the politician’s job to deliver. He is there to serve the People.
    And this is just the utility prices.
    So, Tavares and the EU can procedure the hell out of the this report, but the Hungarian voters will adore Orbán and his pals.
    Orbán brings Nirvana to Hungary. Sure, he is not perfect, but what the hell, no politician is perfect.
    Remember the example about the corrupt (at least rumoured so, since no court cases show it actually exists) and the stupid…

    Cukimuki :
    Readers, the electricity and natural gas prices will once again be decreased by at least 10% in the fall. (This was announced today). (Oh, didn’t the commies actually increase the utility prices, by say 70% during those eight years?)
    I might add, if needed, then once again the prices will be decreased in the the spring. I mean, if the people want that, then it’s the politician’s job to deliver. He is there to serve the People.
    And this is just the utility prices.
    So, Tavares and the EU can procedure the hell out of the this report, but the Hungarian voters will adore Orbán and his pals.
    Orbán brings Nirvana to Hungary. Sure, he is not perfect, but what the hell, no politician is perfect.
    Remember the example about the corrupt (at least rumoured so, since no court cases show it actually exists) and the stupid…

    Cukimuki,

    You know, when you go to the zoo and you feed the animals….guess what: the animals do tricks, play to the crowd, are happy–and yet, at the end of the day, they’re still in prison.
    Fidesz ‘feeds’ the populace with lower gas prices; with Danko radio; with heroic statements of Hungary’s greatness and grit…but you have, is the continual stripping of the country and the resetting of wealth to a narrow few.
    Remember, the elephants get a lot more than the monkeys.

  13. But bizarrely, the vast majority of people will not realise that these flat price drops: (i) obviously reward the rich to a much greater extent; (ii) are a drop in the ocean compared to the ever increasing number of stealth taxes – and that they actually have much less money in their pocket than they ever had before. It’s all mystifying.

  14. @Cukimuki
    So, Tavares and the EU can procedure the hell out of the this report, but the Hungarian voters will adore Orbán and his pals.
    Orbán brings Nirvana to Hungary. Sure, he is not perfect, but what the hell, no politician is perfect.

    Do you mean, that the people of Hungary really that stupid?
    Right after, that even the poorest have been charged with new taxes, Orbán will lower the utility prices again – to Gyurcsány and Bajnai too?

    It really is something, what his voters will certainly appreciate, accordingly..!

  15. I honestly feel the most important part of Eva’s entry is this:
    “The Fidesz MEPs went even further. They announced point blank that the Tavares report’s acceptance by the LIBE commission has “neither legal, nor budgetary, nor economic consequences.” The same is true of the possible adoption of the report by the full plenary session of the European Parliament sometime in July. One could ask: if the European Parliament is such a toothless lion, what on earth is the Fidesz delegation doing in Brussels? Why do they even bother to participate in the useless activities of the European Parliament?”

    We could ask the same from Kovach, Johnny, and the others who come here to express how everyone but Fidesz is wrong. The only way they can do this is keep repeating how wrong everyone is without any argument based on facts. WHy are they here? If this blog and the EU, and all the Left and the liberals do not matter, why are they wasting their time? Good question. You will get no reasonable answers. It is a Catch 22, if they would admit it matters, then what would happen with all their preaching about how much it does not matter. If they hang around posting, it does matter after all.

    “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” Dr. Seuss

  16. Does anyone know where to find the text of the report with the amendments that were approved in the vote included? When I looked earlier I found the original report, but not an updated version with the amendments.

  17. Some1, Fidesz calculates costs and they are right. They don’t care about reputation and relationships. Only that they want to be popular in Hungary, especially among the rural (outside of Budapest) voters. Until such voters are OK with Fidesz, Orbán is OK. The Parliament has no power, but even the Commission is toothless. Fidezs politicians are cynical, but they are lawyers. Can the Parliament do anything legally which could have a effect on Fidesz popularity? No. End of story.

  18. All the commenters seem to be missing the point. The reason this vote is a blow to Fidesz is that small number of people who believe Fidesz outside of Hungary is getting smaller. If Fidesz continues to infer EPP members are evil wacky left-liberals, then even fewer people will believe them.

    This may play well to Hungarians who think that everyone but Fidesz is on an anti-Hungarian witch-hunt. But that number will eventually have to dwindle as well. There are some educated people who support Fidesz- eventually they’re realize that the party isn’t perfect. Certainly, we on this blog will not convince them, but maybe there’s a better chance of the EPP is critical.

  19. I guess the basic problem is, that the EU, EPP, etc starting from the wrong premise regarding the Orbán Government, namely, that their actions driven by some kind of “Hungarian spirit”, and its all about Hungary, misguided and clumsy, but they need only helpful and friendly warnings and the will find the right path.
    Far off!
    Orbán couldn’t care less about what the rest of the world thinks, what the country as a whole would suffer, the only thing matters to him to build is his personal kingdom – and the stress is on “personal” this time. Not only he treat the country as his own domain, he surround himself with loyal oligarchs – whom he pays handsomly with land and privileges robbed from the powerless – he is bluffing his way to be the almighty, even spiritual leader, a hero who save us even from the elements, not to mention the “foreign powers”, has his own security forces and total control over the law enforcement, and quite influence over the juridical system.

    Again, all of this is personal. There is no consistent ideology to speak of, the policy or even the religion easily adapted and customized to fit, the end always justify the means.

    To those who thinks I exaggerating, imagine to take out Orbán from the whole picture just for the test, and look at the remains.
    See?

  20. @Nimh
    It takes a couple of days before the text is consolidated. It will then appear on the EP´s website on the pages for the Plenary. Home–> Plenary–>”séance en direct” –>text and informations–>report.
    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/reports.do
    In principle you should find the amendments there too (those for the plenary).
    when on séance en direct if you click on live!, then on the picture you’ll see the streaming.
    @Wabu
    It is a common mistake to underestimate the role of the parliament by reading its actions from a narrow legalistic perspective. The report can actually have a political impact not only in Hungary but more broadly in the EU and e.g. in the EPP. Remember that Hungary surfaced as a political issue between Merkel and Steinbrück.
    This is why Fidesz seems so annoyed by this and in my view, they even overreacted giving even more publicity to the report.

  21. The inherent racism of liberalism

    By Sylvia Thompson

    Congressman Elbert Guillory has eloquently told the America people why he is leaving the Democratic Party. As many now know, Elbert Guillory is a black politician from Louisiana, and I give kudos, cheers, and hurrahs to him. I am always heartened by a black person awakening to the reality that the Democratic Party stands for liberalism, and liberalism at its core, is racist.

    Progressivism, liberalism, socialism, communism have one thing in common, as I interpret them. They all require that some designated human or group of humans maintains power over other humans. To maintain power (and often wealth), the drivers of these ideologies must keep the masses that they manipulate under control. There must be a permanent underclass of people enabling the wealth and power of those who would be their “saviors.” Those who would provide for the needs that a balanced human being should provide for himself.

    This situation is no different in my view from the slavery that my ancestors (and many other groups throughout human history) experienced. It can even be argued that it is worse. Southern slave owners shackled bodies; these ideologies shackle the soul.

    What touches me deeply, as a black person, is the realization that blacks in America are perfect fodder for manipulation by those who adhere to liberalism. Several centuries of conditioning to think that one must be cared for to survive makes for an easy target. Consequently, liberal Democrats (black and white) have used blacks perniciously.

    As an adult, I have been able to assess my experience in America with a degree of maturity. I have experienced helpful revelations and come to a few conclusions, all of which position me diametrically opposed to any ideology that diminishes the humanity in human beings.

    When I was growing up in Texas under legal segregation, my environment included all the levels of the black experience. In addition to the profane, the assorted criminal types, were the professionals. My doctor; the hospital where my mother delivered my younger siblings; my dentist (a high-school friend of my mother); my high-school principal, administrators, and teachers; and pretty much everything else was black and black owned. My parents were high-school educated and not of the same economic status as the professional blacks around us, but because those professionals were there, as role models for what could be, many of my generation and I were not likely to consider ourselves victims. And liberalism thrives on victims.

    In the past several decades, black communities have become laboratories for liberal Democrat experiments in churning out victims. First they remove all God-given moral strictures by infiltrating the once-stalwart black church and turning the heads of pastors, then they throw in a convenient Planned Parenthood abortion facility to take care of the consequences of the rampant immoral behavior. They then install liberal blacks in political leadership of the communities to keep the masses in check. The resulting chaos and suffering are rife throughout Democrat-controlled areas in this nation. And blacks suffer the most, given our percentage of the population.

    What has become of blacks in America under the thumb of liberalism is a travesty beyond calculation. Because unlike the slave masters of centuries ago, who shackled bodies that could thrive after the shackles were removed, liberalism shackles the mind and the soul, which is a lot more difficult to reclaim. And for that reason, I loathe liberalism and all of its companion ideologies. I am also averse to acceptance of anything that adherents to liberalism may have to offer. That includes Barack Obama.

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/sthompson/130621

  22. @ Reality. If Reality is not Joe Simon, I can’t see what this outburst is meant to contribute to this blog. One must know that in America to be liberal means to be close to a North Korean communist. “Obamacare” (a normal health insurance everybody in Europe has to have, was labeled “communist” by the Republicans). I am also disappointed with Obama. But what is Sylvia Thompson driving at? She is obviously a black conservative, a member of the Republican GOP. This party is just wrecking the USA into a bible-throwing sectarian lunatic asylum.

    If you want a book and articles over the sheer madness of the Republicans by a – conservative – insider read Michael S. Lofgren.

  23. @ Reality: And your point is? Do you want me to copy and past articles here that will analyze why the conservatives are the reincarnation of all bad? Get a grip.

  24. Why do the trolls always copy loonie articles (often without giving the source) ? Are they all related to Schmitt Plag or is it their way of life ? They sound so stupid and of course nobody here reads this trash – I hope …
    The good news: They’re easy to identify – you don’t even have to start reading the first sentence.

    The bad news: It seems that there are a lot of Hungarians emigrated to the USA etc who feel like this, why is that so ? They should know better!

  25. London Calling!

    Hey Eva!

    Leave those toothless lions alone! The Chain Bridge Lions are a copy of Landseer’s Trafalgar Square lions – and they are desperate to leave Hungary!

    On behalf of toothless lions everywhere, where’s your humanity?

    Orban and Co are slowly realising that the Tavares is a long, slow building roar – that’s why they are attacking it so forcibly.

    Hungary is happy to take the dosh – whilst refusing to comply with the rules of the club, which they voluntarily joined.

    They will milk is just as long as they can.

    They will have to be ejected soon.

    Don’t you just love it when the trolls are rattled?

    Regards

    Charlie

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