In the European Parliament, the Hungarian left considers its own ideology to be more important than national interests
In order to get a clearer picture of the activities of the left in Brussels, Századvég mapped the activity of Hungarian MEPs (starting from the amendment proposals noted by MEPs) and their embeddedness (i.e., the number and frequency of contacts with other MEPs) for the first year of the current European Parliamentary term. The most active opposition MEPs collaborate with their Romanian counterparts. Instead of supporting cross-border Hungarian forces, they consider party interest to be more important than national interest, as well as the support of their ideological partners. This is mostly spearheaded by one opposition party.
The European Parliament (EP) plays a central role in the EU’s decision-making mechanism, shaping the provisions that affect the daily lives of European citizens. The basic task of Hungarian MEPs in the EP is to articulate national interests in the European political arena and to prevent decisions that are detrimental to Hungary.
It is important to note that the emphasis on party political and ideological aspects is not an outlandish idea of the left. An earlier analysis of Századvég, based on research on the network of MEPs and the content of their amendment proposals, revealed that
Hungarian left-wing parties in the European Parliament collaborate predominantly with partners hostile to the Hungarian government.
In addition, regarding the Visegrad countries, it is the opposition MEPs of Hungary who mostly work for purposes different from that of the government parties. To put it simply, the Hungarian left is willing to cooperate with foreign partners who violently attack Hungary and politicize against Hungarian national interests in order to discredit the government.
The question arises as to what extent Hungarian left-wing MEPs represent the national interest, especially considering that in recent years these politicians have repeatedly campaigned for their own sister parties instead of Hungarian ones in the elections of neighbouring countries. Századvég looked into the relations of Hungarian left-liberal MEPs with the politicians of other countries during their work in the first half of the current European Parliamentary term.
The analysis shows that Katalin Cseh has the most significant embeddedness among Hungarian MEPs (she supported 473 amendment proposals and collaborated with 68 partners). Regarding the number of amendment proposals, she is the second most active Hungarian politician after the pro-government, Ádám Kósa. However, the seemingly favourable indicators for the MEP of Momentum can be attributed to factors of concern.
We should remember that Momentum has urged to support their Romanian sister party, the liberal USR PLUS instead of the Hungarian forces in Transylvania three times, in the 2019 Romanian presidential election and in last year’s Romanian municipal and parliamentary elections. Another interesting fact is that the party’s MEPs are seated in the Renew Europe faction, which is led by the anti-Hungarian, former Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Cioloş with a far-right history. In light of this, it is less surprising that Katalin Cseh has the strongest trans-national supportive relationships among Hungarian MEPs, which is due to her extremely close working relationship with the Romanian representative of Renew Europe, Ramew Strugariu. The Romanian liberal politician can be considered Cseh’s main partner in Strasbourg. It is of particular interest that Ramona Strugariu (who has the third strongest relationship with Katalin Cseh) has the strongest trans-national relationships among Romanian MEPs. In addition, Katalin Cseh ranks first among Hungarian MEPs who serve “as a bridge” to Romania (regarding Spain, she ranks fifth, but Klára Dobrev and István Újhelyi are ahead of her in this respect). In view of the fact that the party previously regularly campaigned for Romanian parties during the Romanian elections, the question can be rightly asked as
to what extent Momentum’s activities in the European Parliament are aimed at enforcing national interests and realizing ideological aspects, even to the detriment of Hungary.
It is also thought-provoking that István Újhelyi from MSZP is the strongest to serve “as a bridge” in the socialist EP faction to the liberal Renew Europe parliamentary group, while the fifth strongest bridge is the GUE/NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left), which also includes communist parties. Presumably, the close working relationship of the socialist politician with these party alliances is aimed at a stronger attack on the Hungarian government. In addition, Újhelyi ranks third among Hungarian MEPs in “serving as a bridge” to Romania, but it is questionable to what extent this relationship can serve the interests of Hungary.
It can be stated that Sándor Rónai from DK has the second largest embeddedness among Hungarian MEPs, taking into account, among other things, the number of his relations with other MEPs and the frequency of his relations. However, after Katalin Cseh, Rónai is the second strongest in serving “as a bridge” to Romania, which significantly contributes to the high degree of his embeddedness. After several political campaigns launched by Ferenc Gyurcsány and his party against the interests of cross-border Hungarians, the working relationship with Romanian MEPs is likely to be based on putting aside the national interests of Hungary. It is interesting that Csaba Molnár, also from DK, is the fourth, while Anna Donáth from Momentum is the fifth strongest “bridge” to Romania.
It is also important to emphasize that Hungarian left-wing MEPs have repeatedly politicized against the will of the Hungarian electorate. Among other things, in November 2020, they campaigned in the form of a joint statement with the aim that the European Union makes EU funds, which Hungary is entitled to, subject to political punitive conditions disguised as the rule of law. This was followed by a vote in December in favour of a report welcoming the 2015 quota decision, which provides for the mandatory distribution of illegal migrants between Member States.
In light of all this,
left-wing MEPs, forgetting about the essence of their mandate, are likely to use it to pursue their own ideological goals instead of the interests of Hungary.
In doing so, they also found partners among certain foreign politicians. However, it is questionable whether Hungarian voters will reward this strategy in the forthcoming 2024 European Parliamentary elections.
In addition, embeddedness also means that the MEP serves “as a bridge” (linking MEPs not connected directly) as well as the “shortest route” between two MEPs.