The EU must object to the lack of women in Hungarian politics under Orban

Labour Party

In Hungary, politics is a harsh world in which women don’t have the capacity or talent to enter the “boxing ring” and instead stand back and let the men do the fighting.

Or this is what one would think from reading an interview with Viktor Orban, populist and increasingly dictatorial leader of Hungary, in German Tabloid Bild last week.

Below is a rough translation of the section of the interview relating to women in Hungarian politics.

“Bild: This [nothing has changed] attitude also seems to be true for your opinion on women. It is only a short time since your government gained a female minister, responsible for development

Orban: … and 7 state secretaries!

Bild: That’s still not much!

Orban: I hardly think about women in terms of too much or too little. To me it’s about capacity and talent.Hungary’s politics is a harsh world, politics in general is. The fights in the political arena take up very few women. I’m happy about any who do enter politics. For example, the head of the statistical bureau, the judicial authority or the equality body. These things are done by women. But, most of them stay outside the boxing ring and rather let the men do the fight.”

Given the ever growing list of criticisms towards his Fidesz Government’s record on human rights, hearing his attitude towards gender equality and women’s rights is hardly surprising.

It is even less surprising when I recall Orban’s defence of Hungary’s new regressive constitution, brought in by his government at the start of the year, during his visit to the European Parliament last week.

The behaviour of Orban and his Fidesz government has led to the unusual step of the European Commission launching infringement proceedings against them.  The situation in Hungary is alarming to put it mildly.  This is the first time that there has been a genuine concern that a member state is going the way of authoritarian rule.  These comments in Bild show just how reactionary Orban is and they are very troubling coming from the mouth of a European leader. 

At a time when the Hungarian economy is in melt down and their currency is tanking at an alarming rate the government will be looking to the EU for help and support.  That support will be difficult to give if the Fidesz government continues with these constitutional reforms.  I will be watching with interest to hear what decisions have been reached following Orban’s visit to Brussels today.

For those of you who can read German, the enlightening interview can be read in full here.