Hungary’s Growing Need for Open Worldwide Scrutiny and Support — and Perhaps Eventually Sanctions

I?ve just read the timely recent observations in Hungarian Spectrum by Princeton University’s international constitutional scholar, Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, as well as her earlier excellent lecture on the new Hungarian constitution (delivered at CEU nearly a year ago).

Professor Scheppele’s insights were and continue to be astute. But one point on which she does not seem to be realistic is her insistence that the problem of undoing the profound damage being done in Hungary by the current governing party’s electoral supermajority and its increasingly autocratic leader’s use of that supermajority power can and hence must be solved by Hungarians alone.

On the contrary, Hungary?s long history of red/white polarization and scape-goating has clearly culminated, in the latest pendulum swing, in the entrenchment of the white side?s ideology ? a primitive, parochial, petty, punitive and increasingly paranoid world-view ? in a quackish new constitution drafted, adopted and since amended at will nearly 2000 times by the governing party’s supermajority.

Undoing this systematic, cumulative and self-perpetuating damage would require far more substantial and unified internal opposition now than Hungary seems capable of mustering (including the election of a supermajority in the opposite direction, under increasingly self-serving election restrictions voted into law at will by the ruling supermajority).

If global scrutiny and support on behalf of democracy and justice are not ratcheted up dramatically, Hungary will become ever more inextricably engulfed by the opportunistic tar-baby that a plurality made the fateful mistake of embracing in 2010.

(International sanctions would certainly be infinitely preferable to an unopposed descent into dictatorship — or to civil war.)