THE US AND EUROPE COMBATING THE AUTOCRATIC VIRUS

Americans and Europeans are both affected by a variety of viruses, some
deadly for their populations, some for their democratic systems. In the
United States, the virus is the de-legitimation of the electoral process through the spread of conspiracy theories and unfounded denunciations of fraud, a development that unfortunately will impact future elections. In Europe, the virus is just as malignant as it attaches itself to the democratic foundation of the rule of law in the European Union.
Three member nations of the European Union – Hungary, Poland
and Slovenia – are hampering the execution of desperately needed budgetary distribution of funds to help out countries badly hit by the covid-19 pandemic.
Their opposition is due to the diminished European tolerance toward these countries’ violations of basic democratic tenets, particularly press freedom and the independence of the judicial system. The Union is threatening to severely reduce funding for the three former Communist nations if they do not take steps to observe the rule of law. The three governments have reacted by resorting to blackmail, by blocking the adoption of the 1.3 trillion euro package that is to start disbursing relief funds in 2021. The leader of the group, a politician endowed with a very large dose of chutzpah, is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He is fighting the decision of the Union to link adherence to the rule of law to access to the Union largesse. His impudence stems from the fact that the regime badly needs those funds that represent 4 percent of the Hungarian GDP. Until a few days ago Orban could claim support from President Trump, on a common platform of economic nationalism and antipathy toward the European countries, especially Germany and France. The upcoming disappearance of Donald Trump and the intense negotiations under German control are bringing about a new situation in the European Union. There is no doubt that the majority of the Union’s members, and the European Parliament
in particular, are opposed to watering down the principle of the rule of
law to benefit countries that are, to all extents and purposes, autocracies.
In fact, countries such as Poland and Hungary have never known democracy.
The enormous task of addressing the democratic deficit in Poland and Hungary will unquestionably involve a new Biden administration that will restore a strong sense of transatlantic cooperation. The new Secretary of State Antony
Blinken is a strong trans-Atlanticist who will support the European efforts
to enhance the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. In the case of Poland, its
leadership will have to take stock of the new situation in which the Biden administration will not repeat the vague promises to transfer troops from Germany to Poland. For Hungary as well there will be no other option to playing ball with a renewed cooperative U.S. – European Union entente. As far as Europe is concerned, the Union will not yield to the autocratic behavior of the Hungarian prime minister Orban and Polish boss Kaczynski. Their ideological connivance with President Trump is over. The United States is once again working with the European Union in making a stand on the moral and juridical principles that support the
cause of growing European integration.

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