Leaked footage raises questions about collusion between European Commission and Hungary’s far-left

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Last night, the Hungarian news channel HírTV published damaging revelations about political links between the Hungarian far-left opposition party Momentum and the Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová.

In leaked video footage, Anna Donáth, a member of the European Parliament, is seen openly boasting about talking to Jourová regarding the Hungarian domestic situation ‘every three days’. The information is revealing considered both both Jourová and Donáth had vehemently denied they were in contact in the past. Donáth herself denied the claim during a debate with Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga. 

“Many people look for me, the law and order questions belong to me,” she said in the foogage. “I have spoken with Vera Jourova on the phone every three days. Only informally, you know… issues regarding law and order belong to her portfolio. This is why its so important…

The footage raises serious questions about the independence and credibility of the European Commission, which is at loggerheads with the Hungarian government with regards to its handling of the migrant crisis and rule of law issues.

In the video, Donáth had claimed to have similar contacts with French green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the rapporteur of the Article 7 proceedings against Hungary. In the video, Donáth refers to Delbos-Corfield as the  “new Sargentini”, referring to Judith Sargentini who drafted a report against the Hungarian government which first prompted the EU’s rule of law hearings. 

“There were quite a few informal phone-calls and discussions, not only with them [Jourova and Ursula von der Leyen], but also with the new [Judith] Sargentini, Gwendoline Delboss French MEP from the Greens, she is taking the Hungarian question forward, and I must say that my work was 90% successful,” said Donáth in the footage.

If the Momentum MEP Anna Donáth’s claims prove to be valid, it will raise serious questions about her and Jourová’s previous claims about no informal contacts with the Hungarian opposition exist. Donáth’s Momentum party belongs to the same political parliamentary group as Jourová’s ANO, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE). If indeed such discussions have taken place on a regular basis, the Orbán government’s claims of a collusion between Hungarian opposition parties and European Union decision-makers appear to have been proven accurate. 

Donáth, daughter of the Hungarian Socialist politician and member of Parliament László Donáth, is one of the most vocal critics of the Hungarian government within the European institutions. She is a member of the Momentum radical-left party that is particularly popular among university students and young graduates.

The scandal comes only a few days after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had called for the resignation of Jourová in connection with her interview for the German newspaper Der Spiegel, in which she claims that Hungary is a ‘sick democracy’ where people are not able to get unbiased news due to the lack of free speech and media in Hungary.

Orbán had written a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, calling for Jourová’s resignation for what he regarded as an insult to the Hungarian people. Jourová refused to apologize for her remarks and publicly asserted that she stands by her comments even though observers had pointed out that four out of the five of the largest Hungarian online news websites are strongly anti-government, as is the majority of the Hungarian media.

Momentum — not to be confused with its British student movement namesake — has allied itself with other European left-wing movements on an ideological and political basis, rejecting politics on a national or ethnic basis.

Its leaders, among them Donáth, have in recent months been seen campaigning against parties representing Hungarian minorities in Ukraine, Romania or Slovakia, showing their support for fellow ALDE members in various political campaigns. They have often campaigned alongside parties openly or covertly hostile towards Hungarian minorities, for which Momentum had reaped strong criticism from Hungarian minority representatives.

Donáth herself had recently apologized in a tweet for the pain she caused to members of the Hungarian community in Slovakia, after she was branded a ‘traitor’ and a ‘sell-out’ in the Hungarian media.

Although the video scandal is not expected to hurt Momentum among its core voters who support its all-out war against the Hungarian government and its allies by any means, it will make it more difficult for them to be trusted by parties from the same ideological spectrum, fearing similar leaks and indiscretions, such as the one sweeping the Hungarian media landscape right now. They might also be wary of appearing institutionally entangled with the European ‘old establishment’ by their young and radical voters who demand a break from European political movements of the past in favor of a new global ethos.

The scandal is expected to reinforce the views of the majority of Hungarian conservative voters that the numerous criticisms and proceedings against their country coming from the European Commission are not fact-based, but are instead potentially politically motivated.

Most pro-government commentators trace the conflict between the EU elite and the Hungarian government back to the 2015 migrant crisis, when Hungary had refused to join the EU’s call for open borders towards African and Middle-Eastern migrants and refugees. Most Hungarian conservative voters are of the view that past proceedings against their country, such as the Article 7 law and order proceedings initiated by the European Commission, are of a punitive nature and are the consequence of Hungary’s rejection of the prevalent European vision for multiculturalism and the suppression of nation-states in favor of a globalist vision.

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