EU Sues 'Authoritarian' Hungary
Legal action challenges 'Viktator's' effort to consolidate power
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2012 4:17 AM CST
A Jobbik lawmaker expresses doubts about the merits of the country's EU membership.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The European Union has given Hungary a legal slap in the face over what it sees as moves toward authoritarianism. The EU's executive body has launched legal action over the country's new laws governing its central bank, judiciary and data protection authority, reports the Wall Street Journal. Hungarian premier Viktor Orban—dubbed the "Viktator" by critics—recently lowered the retirement age for judges and prosecutors to 62 from 70, a move the EU sees as an attempt to pack the courts with his political allies.

Orban, whose conservative Fidesz party holds a two-thirds majority in parliament, says the moves are necessary to stamp out what remains of Hungary's Stalinist past. "We will not allow the international left to accuse Hungary with lies and slander in front of the international public," a spokesman says. Human rights groups, pointing to media restrictions in Hungary, say the laws being targeted by the EU are just the tip of the iceberg. In Budapest, thousands of members of the far-right Jobbik party joined a rally where party leaders called for a referendum on EU membership and burned an EU flag, AP reports.