For the left fight against covid-19 is also an ideological conflict

dr. Milan Zver. (Foto: STA)

The Left in creative crisis becomes increasingly aggressive. Recent months have proven once more that the left wing policy is in a total creative crisis. It has no ideas, no vision; left governments are inefficient, especially in times of crisis, they are unable to offer any solution and have even appropriated the mainstream green platform from others. They speak with a class-fighting rhetoric typical of the first half of the 20th century. They are taking the simplest route: by being against everything! The left spectrum is united in hatred, which in Slovenia focuses on Prime Minister Mr. Janša and at the European level on Prime Minister Mr. Orban.

Let us focus in this article on Hungary. At the April Plenary session, the European Parliament adopted legislation on concrete measures to combat the Covid – 19 pandemic. High political consensus was reached on these measures. The only exception is the political Resolution on EU coordinated action to combat the Covid19 Pandemic and its Consequences that accompanied the whole package of measures. Initially, all major political groups participated in the drafting of the political statement: the Conservatives, the European People’s Party, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Liberals. However, as the Leftists, who have a majority in the Conference of Presidents, again introduced two controversial articles (36 and 37), the Conservatives withdraw their support of the Resolution. In Article 36, the resolution condemns the decision of the Hungarian government “to prolong the state of emergency indefinitely, to authorise the government to rule by decree without time limit, and to weaken the emergency oversight of the Parliament”. In the next article, however, the Parliament calls on the Commission to urgently assess whether the emergency measures are in conformity with the EU Treaties, its fundamental principles such as democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

One could still understand that the Left uses low blows and attacks on Orban in the context and time of the plenary debate. Now, in this crisis, as people are dying in large numbers every day due to Covid19 and the EU is desperately in need of unity, the Lefts is introducing an ideological confrontation with the sole purpose of weakening the Right and undermining the effective work of right-wing governments.

Why do I think the attacks on Hungary are cheap, corrupt and false? Let me relive the story, the key remarks and the facts. As is known, on 30 March, the Hungarian National Assembly passed with a two-thirds majority the Act on the Protection against the Coronavirus. The new law extends the state of danger introduced on 11 March and empowers the government to take additional extraordinary measures to protect the population against the spread of the coronavirus.

The European left and Hungarian left opposition immediately attacked the Hungarian government.  Firstly, they accused the government of extending the state of emergency indefinitely. The truth is, however, that the state of emergency is time-bound for the duration of the coronavirus epidemic. “At any given moment, Parliament must be in a position to take back the right of decision from the government,” Prime Minister Orbán told the National Assembly during the debate. “I don’t need a fixed deadline. You can take it back tomorrow morning if you consider it inadequate,” he added.

The next accusation was that the new Covid law gives Orban “unlimited power” to suspend laws and rule by decree. But the fact is that, in accordance with the clear provisions of the law, the Parliament authorizes the government to take all necessary emergency measures explicitly to prevent and respond to the human epidemic of COVID-19. As per the clear provisions of the law, the government can only take extraordinary measures to the extent necessary and proportionate to the objective pursued, i.e. epidemic prevention.

Critics have also stated that the Hungarian parliament has been dissolved. However, the truth is that the Hungarian Parliament is in continuous session and has actually held two sessions since the adoption of the Covid law. Furthermore, the law requires the government to regularly inform Parliament about measures being taken to counter the emergency as long as said measures remain in force. If Parliament is not in session or lacks a quorum, the government must provide information to the House Speaker and the heads of the parliamentary political groups.

The easiest thing to do is to criticize in general. Such critics have argued that the above-mentioned Hungarian Covid law eliminates democratic control and system of checks and balances between branches of government, and undermines the rule of law, democratic values ​​and fundamental rights. The fact is, however, that the government can exercise these extraordinary powers only to prevent, treat, eradicate and remedy harmful effects of the human epidemic. Moreover, the government still has to answer to the Parliament, observe the constitution and the functioning of the Constitutional Court.

The Hungarian government was also criticised, including, for example, of restricting the freedom of speech. So far, not a single (!) Hungarian journalist has been prosecuted.

In short, according to leftist logic, during these emergencies, e.g., only French President Emmanuel Macron can rule with decrees, but Prime Ministers Mr. Janša or Mr. Orban cannot. Cheap and dangerous double criteria.

EPP again pushed against the wall
Before the April plenary session, EPP held its group meeting, this time chaired by MEP Esteban Gonzales Pons instead of MEP Manfred Weber. The meeting was long and surprisingly dialogic. Most MEPs participated through videoconference. It was clear that one of the most important documents was being adopted, which is going to radically change, due to the exceptional circumstances, some of the things that have already been agreed in recent months, namely the MFF. Budget transfers are necessary and this joint commitment was demonstrated by the aforementioned document. Even the results of the vote in the plenary showed an incredibly high level of consensus on emergency measures.

However, the consensus was not reached on everything. The abovementioned Resolution caused the division at the EPP political group meeting. It also triggered a rift within the group of parties of the democratic arc, which initially drafted a joint resolution. As mentioned above, the two parties had several reservations. First was the ECR (Conservatives), which withdrew its signature on the last day, and the second was the EPP. On many occasions before, the Left has managed to include its ideological views (on abortion, LGBTI, Orban) into the text. The same happened with this Resolution, which was initially drafted to express the EU’s unity in the fight against coronavirus. It is not the first time that the Liberals, Greens and Socialists have pushed the leadership of the EPP against a wall in a style: if you do not support our amendments, there will be no joint resolution. And for the so called “common good” EPP always discounts. Regardless of the content of the document, be it on potatoes or some other issue, abortion or Orban will surely be mentioned in it. We have devoured hundreds of such bitter pills in the recent years, and this has to end. We should be putting down the marker a long time ago and saying that blackmail has to end. Even at the cost of political problems or an institutional crisis. There has been enough blackmailing of the left, and it is time to end the trend of left-center ideological drowning. These are the reasons why the Slovenian Democratic Party could not support the Resolution. It is a shame because the general objective of the Resolution is good. However, the principled behaviour in politics also counts for something.

dr. Milan Zver