Self-proclaimed European federalist Guy Verhofstadt has led the charge of a number of liberal MEPs calling for wide-scale election observation in Hungary, according to reports.
A cross-party group of 62 MEPs have reportedly penned a letter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) expressing deep concerns about the commitment of the Hungarian government to delivering a free and fair election, and wants the deployment of EU officials to ensure democratic principles are respected.
“We come from five political groups and from 19 different countries. But we all share the concern that the elections might not be held to the highest democratic standards,” the MEPs wrote in a letter.
In a tweet on Wednesday, long-serving Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt insisted that an election observation mission in Hungary was “absolutely necessary,” making unsubstantiated claims that the Hungarian prime minister may resort to foul play.
“Orbán will play it dirty,” Verhofstadt tweeted. “The outcome matters to us all. Europe’s democracy and sovereignty will be at stake…”
The influential Twitter account, V4 Report, responded to Verhofstadt’s remarks, accusing him of already conducting a “predictable and pathetic propaganda campaign” in an attempt to “discredit the election.”
Others, including Dr. Paul Stott, the head of security and extremism at the U.K. think tank Policy Exchange, found the irony in Verhofstadt’s comments following his rather vocal opposition to the 2016 Brexit referendum result in the U.K.
“Look at the size of the balls on this guy. He spent years trying to overturn the largest democratic vote in British history!” Stott tweeted in response.
The European Union is not averse to election observation, historically involving itself in overseeing the electoral process in developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, however it is highly unusual for the democratic principles and integrity of a member state to be questioned by Brussels.
The newly-launched Election Observation and Democracy Support (EODS III) team describes its role in election observation as an “essential component of European Union activities to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide.”
In a statement on its methodology, it insists that EU observers “will not interfere in the election process,” but simply report back offering recommendations for “improving the integrity and effectiveness of future electoral processes and the wider process of democratization.”
Hungarians are due to head to the polls on April 3 with Viktor Orbán’s governing party, Fidesz, widely expected to retain power — bookmakers currently have Orbán’s party as odds-on favorites to remain prime minister.