Germany’s Role in Hungarian Politics


I am Máté Örs Kedves, 20 years old, a History and Politics undergraduate at the University of Glasgow. I am very much interested in the social and political situations of today and of the past and wish to work in the field when I “grow up”. On a personal level, I love playing the guitar or the piano, and sport wise I simply adore volleyball.


Hungary | June 27, 2020 | Student Essay

This short essay argues, that German politics, mainly through the European Parliament (EP), has an indirect, however undeniable impact on Hungarian politics on both sides: opposition and government. Some German MEPs assist the Hungarian opposition by standing beside them in addition to attacking the government’s policy. Others are a last resort of the governing party FIDESZ. After shortly introducing the context, this essay is going to discuss the cooperation between Hungarian and German MEPs within EP parties such as S&D and Renew Europe. Talk about the condemnation of FIDESZ practices by the EP in general, and therefore, by Germans as well. Then the relationship between FIDESZ and its EP party-family the European People’s Party (EPP), and the role of the CSU and CDU parties.

As admitted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in an interview, the relationship between Hungary and Germany is not as flawless as it used to be in the past.[1] He mentions the time of the fall of the soviet regime in 1989. Since then, there have been differences between the two countries, for example in 2015 on migration policy, when Hungary has built a wall to keep the immigrants out, and Germany welcomed around 4 million of them between 2015 and 2018.[2] Most recently, however, in 2020 the two states disagreed on the way the COVID-19 situation is to be handled.[3] The Hungarian Parliament, which is consisted 2/3s of the government party passed a bill, which allows Orbán to rule by decree indefinitely. By the majority of the EP and Germans as well, this has been seen as a violation of Article 2 of the European Union’s law, an attack on democracy.[4]

German parties in the EP, among parties from other countries, give extra legitimacy for Hungarian opposition. EP party families such as S&D and Renew Europe are for one, very powerful parties, and secondly give opportunity for Hungarian opposition to have a voice that can only be obtained on a EU scale drawing attention to Hungarian domestic politics and its violations of EU fundamental principles and the rule of law. This very fact has been proven, by the latest hearing on Hungary’s actions on the 14th of May by Hungarian opposition politicians, such as Anna Donáth:

“The plenary debate made it clear: the majority of the MEPs view the Hungarian government’s introduction of the emergency act for unlimited time to be another step towards weakening the rule of law in the country. The measures have nothing to do with the fight against the pandemic, as it is shown by newly adopted laws, such as the resolution on rejecting the Istanbul Convention, limiting the rights of trans people, arresting citizens who voiced their opinion on social media or threatening journalists with prison if they spread ‘fake news’ about the coronavirus.”[5]

In the S&D, the German Sozialdemokratische Partei and in the Renew Europe party Freie Wähler and Freie Demokratische Partei are the more direct connections to Germany. Having powerful allies like this give confidence for the Hungarian opposition to have a more active international and domestic policy as well, thus Germany influences Hungarian politics.

The governing party of Hungary Fidesz has been called out for un-European practices and been suspended from its EP party family. There is a general recognition of the ruling party’s problems. For example, the EP, of course including German parties condemned FIDESZ for violating Article 2, the basic principles of the EU, therefore it is undergoing the procedure of Article 7.[6] Furthermore, the European People’s Party (EPP), suspended FIDESZ in the March of 2019, after closing down opposition newspaper, and the Central European University. Since, then the expulsion of the party has been on the table, but no decision has been made as of writing. No firm decision anyway, because an open letter about excluding FIDESZ has been signed by almost every member, interestingly enough, expect for among a few others the party’s two German members CDU and CSU.[7] Germany, by being involved in the EU and EP has attacked the Hungarian government on different occasions, however it seems some parties are still in favour of FIDESZ. This is a clear case German influence on Hungarian domestic politics through international actions.

In conclusion, as we see the EP’s actions in regards of Hungarian politics and policies it is safe to say, that Germany itself has an important role. We cannot simply state, that Germany on its own has a significant influence, but it is undeniable, that German parties within the EP help both sides of the Hungarian political sphere. Both the opposition and the government receive assistance from the link-minded German politicians. Finally, since the EU is so interconnected it is not a big surprise that Germany and Hungary are connected on a political level as well.


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References:

[1] Hungarian Embassy Berlin website, German interview by the ‘Welt Am Sonntag’ newspaper, accessed 3rd June 2020

[2] DEStatis, ’Migration between Germany and foreign countries 1991-2017’, table, accessed 14th June, url: https://www.destatis.de/EN/Themes/Society-Environment/Population/Migration/Tables/migration-total.html

[3] Hungarian Embassy Berlin website

[4] European Parliament, ’Hungary’s emergency measures: MEPs ask EU to impose sanctions and stop payments’, accessed 3rd June, 2020, url: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200512IPR78917/hungary-s-emergency-measures-meps-ask-eu-to-impose-sanctions-and-stop-payments

[5] Renew Europe Group.eu, ’EU funding to Hungary must be strictly controlled by European Commission’, accessed 5th June, 2020, url: https://reneweuropegroup.eu/en/news/1497-eu-funding-to-hungary-must-be-strictly-controlled-by-the-commission/

[6] European Parliament, ’Hungary’s emergency measures’, url:  https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200512IPR78917/hungary-s-emergency-measures-meps-ask-eu-to-impose-sanctions-and-stop-payments

[7] Sarantis Michalopolus, ‘Centre-right leaders ask Tusk to expel Orbán’s Fidesz from EPP’, EURACTIV,  accessed 10th June, url: https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/centre-right-leaders-ask-tusk-to-expel-orbans-fidesz-from-epp/

3 thoughts on “Germany’s Role in Hungarian Politics

  1. Kristóf Németh says:

    Great article! As a hungarian myself, it was very well worthy of reading!I especially liked the fact that it was informative, but also understandable for me too, even though my vocabulary in this field may not be the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. András says:

    Dear Mate, this was a really interesting summary of the current situation, even though it’s hard to talk about the relationship between the two countries solely based on political connections, without mentioning the underlying economical interests.
    I’m looking forward to reading your future works!

    Liked by 1 person

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