Hungary’s Orbán Calls for EU Parliament to Be Abolished Amid Qatargate Corruption Scandal

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gestures as he addresses an annual press conference

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called for the dissolution of the European Parliament after it was alleged that leading leftist parliamentarians took bribes from the Sharia state of Qatar.

The growing corruption scandal at the heart of the European Union, in which former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, among others, was arrested by Belgian police for allegedly accepting cash from Qatar in return for advocating for the Islamist Kingdom’s interests in Brussels should result in reforms to EU institutions, Viktor Orbán argued.

In a press conference from Budapest on Wednesday, the populist Hungarian leader said: “We have disputes with the European institutions, and we want to transform them.”

“But the fact that they lose their credibility, that this hypocritical character – well known to us by the way – comes to the surface, this destroys the strength of the community to which we also belong”, Orbán said, declaring: “Hungarians want to abolish the European Parliament.”

The prime minister argued that rather than having direct elections for MEPs (Members of European Parliament), the body should be comprised of representatives sent by national parliaments from individual member states, claiming that national parliaments are better suited at policing their members than the European body.

“If we want to bring the European Parliament under stronger control as an institution, then it would be better if we sent representatives elected to the national parliament instead of direct election,” he said.

This week, Brexit leader Nigel Farage made similar criticisms of the EU Parliament, noting that in contrast to the UK Parliament, which only grants criminal immunity to its members for statements they make in the House of Commons, the European Parliament provides protection for its members anywhere as long as they are allegedly acting as an MEP, which Farage said gives them the feeling of having “untouchable” status.

“The fact is that the EU bigwigs have constructed a body of politicians and bureaucrats who make up what is, in effect, a separate class,” Farage said.

Mr Orbán was also not alone in saying that the widening corruption scandal has damaged the credibility of European Union institutions, with European Council President Charles Michel saying this week that Qatargate is “dramatic and damaging for the credibility of the European Union” and that it threatens to destabilise the bloc to such an extent that it could even result in the “fragmentation” of the single market.

The scandal, which has seen police discover literal suitcases full of cash, has reportedly widened to such an extent that up to 60 other members of the European Parliament are currently believed to be under investigation for being connected to the bribery scheme.

The conservative leader of Hungary, who was reelected in April of this year, has frequently found himself at odds with the EU establishment in Brussels. Over the past year, the bloc has been holding back Hungary’s full share of EU funding, allegedly over so-called “rule of law” concerns. Yet, others have surmised that it is in fact a punishment for Orbán breaking with the EU on Russian sanctions, which he believes would disproportionately damage his country’s economy.

Orbán has also clashed with the neo-liberal establishment in Brussels on cultural issues, with eurocrats breathlessly condemning the central European nation for banning teaching transgender ideology to children as well as its refusal to fall in line with the Germany-led initiative to impose migrant quotas across all member states.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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