Hungary’s Independent Streak Is Troubling for Globalization Advocates
The European Commission is to conduct an investigation into what the European Union alleges is a drift in Hungary towards “illiberal democracy” and authoritarianism April 12 – although the country’s close relations with Russia, and opposition to meddling in its internal affairs, may be the true motivation.
The inquiry was triggered by the Hungarian government’s April 4 adoption of a law that could effectively shut down the Central European University (CEU), the Budapest school founded by billionaire George Soros, an outspoken detractor of the country’s President Viktor Orban.
Orban said the law was intended to remedy the “unfair advantage” the institution has over other Hungarian universities, in being able to award both Hungarian diploma and American degrees.
Nonetheless, critics claim the law is an attempt to shut down independent, critical voices in the country, en route to the establishment of a nationalist “Orbanocracy” in Hungary. In the European Parliament, European People’s Party Chair Manfred Weber said the move represented an attack on “freedom of thinking, research, and speech.”