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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 09:36 AM

Europe's Conservatives Fail to Criticize Hungary

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,810863,00.html

According to its statutes, the European People's Party (EPP) pursues honorable goals. It is committed to the "Christian view of mankind," it advocates "free and pluralistic democracy" and, of course, it cherishes human rights. In theory, at least.

The practice looks a little different. With its 271 members, the coalition of conservative and Christian Democratic parties makes up the largest group in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The EPP doesn't want to jeopardize this status, which is why it is no longer that fussy about democracy and the rule of law.

When the EPP member party Forza Italia pushed through laws that benefited then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, other EPP members did not object. Even the "bunga-bunga parties" that Berlusconi hosted, where some of the attractive women were underage, did not present a problem to the group, despite its commitment to the "Christian Democratic concept of society."

The most recent beneficiary of the EPP's odd approach to tolerance is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. His Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, which it uses to systematically limit basic rights, like freedom of the press. This has prompted the European Commission to initiate three proceedings against Hungary for violating the Lisbon Treaty. It's a strong signal to send to a European Union member state.

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