Editorial of the “World”. Against the background of the Russian war in Ukraine, two European leaders who do not hide their benevolence towards Moscow have just seen their electoral base very largely confirmed. In Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic was re-elected on Sunday April 3 with nearly 60% of the vote. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party, Fidesz, won such a large victory the same day that it allowed it to retain a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
These two leaders have in common a particular, restrictive practice of democracy and the rule of law. The political appropriation of the public media by the authorities, in particular, played an important role in these two electoral campaigns. Faced with an electorate worried about the consequences of the return of war to their continent, MM. Vucic and Orban both played on the promise of stability offered by the incumbent’s reappointment.
Unlike Serbia, Hungary is a member of the European Union (EU). Mr. Orban’s victory, all the more resounding as it is his fourth consecutively since 2010, and as he was facing a united opposition, is therefore more serious in its consequences for Europe. He demonstrated this as soon as the results were announced, denouncing ” the opponents ” who he said had tried to obstruct his re-election, including “the bureaucrats of Brussels” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vladimir Putin was one of the first to congratulate him on his victory.
If Viktor Orban’s European partners are used to his diatribes against Brussels, his attack on the Ukrainian president, at a time when the world was discovering the images of the Boutcha massacre, poses a challenge of a different nature to the EU. It endangers precious European solidarity, as can already be seen in Hungary’s refusal to join in a possible embargo on Russian oil.
Mr. Orban needs European funds to keep the promises he made to his electorate during the campaign. The EU has an important lever here, which it intends to use with regard to Budapest: the conditionality mechanism, which makes it possible to make the release of European funds allocated to a Member State subject to compliance with the rule of law. by this one. Brussels had avoided triggering this mechanism so far so as not to be accused of interference in the electoral campaign. Now the way is clear, and the European Commission is right to commit to it. It is no longer acceptable for the European taxpayer to finance subsidies to countries whose government refuses to guarantee that they will be used in accordance with the law.
The problem now arises for Warsaw, also in conflict with the Commission on the Rule of Law. Unlike Budapest, Poland, a hub for the delivery of arms and a haven for nearly 2 million refugees, is a leading player in solidarity with Ukraine. As such, it must be helped. But the attitude of its prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who never ceases to publicly attack Germany and France, shows that the party in power is still in a logic of confrontation within the EU. Solidarity with Ukraine but total rigor with respect to the rule of law: more than ever, this line must prevail for all the Member States. There is no Europe without the rule of law.