Posts in "Hungary" Category

Dear @Xavier_Bettel, it’s time to rotate the @EU_Presidency


In seven months Luxembourg will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. Preparations seem to be well underway, but so far your government has not set up a specific Twitter account for the presidency.

As you may know, the current Italian EU Presidency is quite active on Twitter. It has amassed more than 32,000 followers to its account, @IT2014EU. The Latvian government – which holds the presidency in the first half of 2015 – is already tweeting via two accounts – in English (@EU2015LV), and in Latvian (@ES2015LV). They have a combined total of  more than 3,800 followers.

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Herman’s checklist: finding a balance for the EU’s top jobs

9157497455_724ede816a_h - UPDATEDA big week, and a careful balancing act

This time next week, Angela Merkel will be celebrating her sixtieth birthday – and short of anything better to cheer, the rest of the European Council will probably be celebrating the end of the gruelling quinquennial EU top jobs race.

Tuesday (15 July) sees the election of the new President of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker does not quite have his feet under the desk yet, but the ‘grand coalition’ that held for Martin Schulz’s election as President of the European Parliament is expected to hold and see Juncker made President-elect.

And then, on Wednesday, the rest of the pieces of the top jobs jigsaw are expected to be put into place.

The European Council, denied a backroom deal over the Commission presidency, can (more or less) get back to old ways with its selection of a new President of the European Council and a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (although the choice for the latter position is one for leaders to take with the President-elect). A new permanent president for the Eurogroup (finance ministers of eurozone countries) is also expected to be named.

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Building a new Commission – the runners and riders for the next College

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]Post updated later on Wednesday 11 June to account for news that Dacian Cioloș (Agriculture and Rural Development; Romania) may be re-nominated to the Commission.[/infopane]

With the choice of a President of the European Commission still up in the air, we are a long way off knowing the full team that will occupy the upper floors of the Berlaymont for the next five years.

Nevertheless, national governments are already putting forward their proposed nominees to sit in the new College. Here’s our look at the comings and goings in the Commission in 2014, and the potential candidates to take a seat in the new Commission.

If you have comments or suggestions, please include them in the comments box.

See our country-by-country guide to the potential nominees

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Who’s going where? Tracking the musical chairs in the European Parliament

[infopane color=”5″ icon=”0049.png”]Please note that since the constitutive session of the European Parliament on 1 July 2014, this page is no longer being updated.[/infopane]
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The 2014 European elections brought 34 new parties or independent candidates to the European Parliament.

Now, many of those new MEPs are seeking to join political groups to strengthen their voice in the Parliament, while a battle goes on between the groups to attract new members that help ensure their survival and maximise their influence, speaking time and funding.

One new group – the European Alliance for Freedom – has also been mooted as a way to bring together anti-EU parties on the radical right. To form this and other groups, a minimum of 25 MEPs are needed, representing at least seven member states.

At the same time, other parties are considering changing groups or allying themselves to a group for the first time.

Take a look at our table listing the parties up for grabs, based on the vast array of information from intelligence we have gathered and media reports – and contribute via the button below or the comments box at the bottom of the page.


Five days on from the election: five reflections on the Commission presidency

[infopane color=”6″ icon=”0049.png”]This blogpost, originally published at 12:55 on Friday 30 May, has been updated following remarks by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, later on Friday afternoon.[/infopane]

That was the week that was: an odd few days where the European People’s Party won the European Parliament elections, but was also the biggest loser; and where Socialists in the Parliament backed the EPP lead candidate for the European Commission presidency, only for some centre-right leaders to apply the brakes in the European Council.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP lead candidate, is still the frontrunner and the only person formally in the running. His chances have been boosted tanks to comments by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Friday, that she is conducting negotiations on the basis that Juncker should be President.

However, it is clear that a number of heads of government would like to dump him in favour of someone else. The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has been charged with an exploratory mission to find the person – Juncker included – who can command the sufficient majority in the Parliament and European Council.

Meanwhile, five political groups in the European Parliament have backed Juncker to have a first go at building majorities in the same institutions – and if he fails, are likely to call for Martin Schulz, lead candidate of the second-placed Socialists, to have a go.

If those who want to block Juncker in the European Council succeed – and it is not a done deal yet for the former Luxembourg prime minister – an inter-institutional battle between the Parliament and European Council will be on the cards.

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Elections round-up: EPP loses but stays as biggest group, while anti-EU parties surge

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Europe’s voters have backed a vast array of anti-EU and anti-establishment voters in the 2014 European Parliament elections, sending fewer MEPs from each of the main political groups back to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Despite being the biggest loser of the night in terms of seats, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) looks like emerging as the biggest party in the European Parliament with its support holding up in Germany and Poland among the larger member states, and good support across central and Eastern Europe. The Socialists are also set to lose a handful of seats, with the Liberals likely to lose around 20 seats according to the latest projections.

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The populist challenge and the mainstream response

Marley Morris of Counterpoint, a UK-based research group that focuses on cultural and social dynamics underpinning politics, economics and security, writes on the prospect of an increase in populist voices at the European elections:

The European Parliament elections contain a strange contradiction.

The next parliament, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, will have more power than any of its predecessors. It will be able to elect the President of the European Commission for the first time. Vast areas of vital policy – not least the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – are at stake. And as the first pan-European elections since the worst moments of the eurozone crisis, the results will be analysed as a crucial gauge of public opinion.

Euranet Plus interview - Guest of the Week with MEP Marine LE PENAnd yet there is still a long way to go to making the European Parliament elections comparable in status to national polls. Eurobarometer tells us that only 54 per cent of European Union citizens are aware that the European Parliament is directly elected.

Efforts by the mainstream European-level parties to tout their ‘lead candidates’ seem to have had limited success, with many voters unaware of the contest, and numerous commentators suspecting that the next Commission president may well be someone else entirely.

A populist surge?

Ten days from the elections, the expectation is that apathy will translate into success for Eurosceptics and populists at the polls.

Marine Le Pen (right), the leader of France’s populist radical right National Front (FN) party, and Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam and Eurosceptic Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, pledged last year to join forces. They plan to form a political group with like-minded parties in the new Parliament. Wilders has said of the proposed alliance: “We will have an enormous influence… We are working on a historical project.”

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Hungarian elections: Orbán handsomely re-elected as extremists make gains

Read our full election Insight (PDF)
Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán (pictured right) has won another term in office as his centre-right Fidesz party celebrated a landslide victory.

The vote, the first to take place under radically revised election rules, saw Fidesz take two thirds of the seats in Hungary’s parliament, which would allow the party to continue constitutional reforms without other parties’ support.

A Socialist-led ‘Unity’ alliance came a poor second, winning 38 seats in comparison to Fidesz’s 133. ‘Politics Can Be Different’, a green/liberal movement, won five seats.

However, the far-right Jobbik party took 23 seats – more than ten per cent of all the seats in parliament – and will look with confidence to the European Parliament election in less than seven weeks’ time.


50 days to go, 50 things to know about Europe’s year of change

The countdown continues: at 08:00 CET on Wednesday 2 April, there are exactly 50 days to go to the opening of the polls for the European Parliament elections.

Here is our overview of where we stand and what you need to know about Europe’s year of change:

Top jobs | Country-by-country | PollWatch 2014 | The elections and beyond | Reading list

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Coalitions, commissioners and election sandwiches: the European elections in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia

With the European Parliament election campaign hotting up across the continent, we take a snapshot of the situation in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Blogpost compiled with the support of Chapter 4, Burson-Marsteller’s exclusive affiliate in South East and Central and Eastern Europe. 


Plenary session week 3 2014 - Hercule III programme and protection of the European Union's financial interests

The European election in Croatia will be a crucial examination for the ruling left-wing coalition, led by the Social Democrats (SDP).

The government has just entered the second half of its mandate and has faced several scandals, often clumsily handled. The SDP has suffered its worst opinion poll scores in several years and there have been internal clashes.

While the election will be a test of credibility for the ruling party, it is also a chance to test the strength of the main opponent, the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ – a member of the European People’s Party), which is still dogged by memories of corruption scandals from its long period in power.

Given the troubles for the two main parties, an opportunity opens for several other groups to position themselves. Dozens of new parties that have been founded in the last twelve months will face their first test.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Croatia

The SDP and HDZ are both running in the election at the head of a coalition (the HDZ is leading the right-wing Union for Croatia, whose list includes Ruža Tomašić (pictured), an MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group).

Last year’s inaugural European election in Croatia saw a scramble for positions on the lists, with the posts in Brussels being seen as prestigious and lucrative – a common statute for MEPs means that Croatian members are paid vastly more than parliamentarians in Zagreb. This year will see a repeat.

However, one Social Democrat who is likely to stand in the election will almost certainly not take up his seat: the current Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Neven Mimica, is likely to be Croatia’s nominee to the European Commission for the second time.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Croatia

On 19 March Croatian president Ivo Josipović announced that the elections will be held on 25 May, expressing his wish that all parties talk about the possibilities Croatia has as an EU member.

Viktor Orbán, on the left, and José Manuel Barroso

Few people in Hungary are discussing the European elections, with a general election due to take place in less than three weeks’ time.

Indeed, the European poll is part of an ‘election sandwich’, with municipal elections due to take place in the autumn.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Hungary

At the moment, the centre-right government of Viktor Orbán (pictured) is set to win a big majority in the new Hungarian parliament. His party, Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union, is set to win half of all votes, with the centre-left Unity coalition, featuring the Socialists, at around 25%. The extreme-right Jobbik – Movement for a Better Hungary party is currently set to win around 15% of the vote.

The new electoral system will see one round of voting, a parliament that is almost halved in size, and a greater emphasis on constituency seats rather than party lists. There is a threshold for entry into parliament of five per cent for single parties; more for combined lists.

After the national elections, the parties will start to focus on Europe; indeed, Fidesz is due to publish its list of candidates only after the election. One potentially interesting development is the high score for Jobbik in the opinion polls, especially given that European Parliament elections see a surge in support for fringe parties.

Hungary’s nominee to the European Commission is likely to come from Fidesz if the party, as expected, wins the national election. The likely nominee is also set to head the party’s list for the European Parliament election.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Hungary

Names being mooted are Enikő Győri, the Europe minister and face of the country’s EU presidency in 2011. She has excellent European and international credentials, speaks many languages, and would probably pass the hearing in the Parliament without much difficulty.

Other contenders include the justice minister, Tibor Navracsics, and current MEP József Szájer, who has been in the Parliament since Hungary joined the EU and has worked mainly on constitutional issues.

Janez Potocnik at the EU Hope ConferenceWith just over three months to go to the elections, the political situation in Slovenia is beginning to clarify a little.

On the centre-right, New Slovenia (NSi) and the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) – both affiliated to the EPP – will run a common list, with Alojz Peterle MEP among the candidates. As for the other EPP-affiliated party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), Romana Jordan is set to stand down, but Milan Zver is likely to run again.

The Social Democrats will probably field Tanja Fajon and Mojca Kleva Kekuš – both currently MEPs. But there is also speculation that the party’s President, Igor Lukšič will lead the list. The order of these candidates could be crucial with Positive Slovenia (PS), a party established since the last European election but which now leads the government, likely to compete strongly for seats.

See our list of European Parliament election candidates in Slovenia

PS will join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group, where Jelko Kacin MEP of Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) and Ivo Vajgl MEP of Zares – Social Liberals currently sit. However, due to the very low public support for LDS Kacin may lose his seat, while Vajgl is now backed by the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS) – a centrist party focused on rights of older people.

As for the nominee to the European Commission, Janez Potočnik (pictured), who will not stand in the election, will try to get the government’s support but may face a battle to stay on for a third term (even if it would help secure a more important portfolio for the country’s nominee). In Slovenia, unlike in many other countries, the government has to approve the nomination, not just the prime minister.

See our list of potential nominees to the European Commission from Slovenia