The United States, the European Union and human rights groups have accused Orban’s conservative government of using constitutional amendments to build up its powers and weaken the independence of Hungary’s courts.
The Council of Europe, which promotes democracy and human rights across the continent, took the vote after a group of independent legal experts issued a report raising concern about the changes. If the vote had gone against it, Hungary would have been the first EU state monitored by the Council, which typically reserves surveillance for new democracies such as Serbia and Albania.
“Just like Greece is a test case for the stability of the euro … Hungary is a test case for the implementation of political norms,” former Hungarian foreign minister Peter Balazs told Al Jazeera:
Balazs said monitoring some officials – including diplomats, judges and prosecutors – was normal, however, he said the new law takes surveillance to another level. ….legal changes – such as the one on political advertisements – could put the legitimacy of the national election in 2014 into question. He accused the government of threatening Hungary’s democracy by implementing laws without proper review.
“There are various features of a totalitarian regime, which is something very new,” Balazs said.
“There are fears that anybody could be surveilled at any time … When they are setting up mechanics like that, you never know whether they misuse it. There are signs of [an] Orwellian approach
EU officials have accused Orban’s government of not cleaving to the bloc’s democratic standards.
Threats to deny independent Klubradio a long-term frequency has been cited as the latest example of an authoritarian drift that has prompted some commentators to describe Orban’s Hungary as Putinism’s ‘first ideological outpost.’