What's New(s)

What's New(s) - Controversial election campaigns and labour reforms - 11/02/2022

What's New(s) - Controversial election campaigns and labour reforms  - 11/02/2022

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

“It’s dirty tricks déjà vu” headlined POLITICO about the Hungarian election campaign. Even if there’s still some time left before the elections on April 3rd 2022, the election campaigns are already heating up.

What tricks are played this time ?

Good morning Erik, indeed, Victor Orbán once again grabbed the European headlines this week, this time accused of media manipulation and outrageous campaigns. With two months left before the Hungarians hit the polls, Orbán tried to discredit Hungarian civil society and independent media, by promoting secret recordings via pro-government media. The daily Magyar Nemzet said this week it obtained recordings showing that NGOs linked to George Soros are ‘manipulating’ the international press coverage of the central European republic. It is not the first time Orbán claims that foreign influenced forces are conspiring against his country, his new move closely resembles the strategy he used in 2018, when the Prime Minister spread recordings of NGO employees weeks ahead of the elections, wrote POLITICO.

And did this controversial strategy work? Did Orbán indeed manage to negatively target NGOs and CVOs?

Activists and civil society groups immediately reacted, saying the clips are misleading and that an even larger campaign is on its way to trick and secretly record civil society members. Pro-government media Magyar Nemzet and Kossuth Rádió, two of the most read and most listened to media in Hungary, however echoed the words of Orbán, picturing the recordings as facts. The news about the controversial campaign strategy comes just a few days after the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recommended to send observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections, wrote Euronews. The OSCE published its needs assessment report last Friday. Hungary’s state secretary for international relations and communication, Zoltán Kovács, stated that it was ‘cynical and absurd’ to assume that Fidesz and Orbán would commit electoral fraud, quoted Hungary Today, adding that such claims are a ‘usual campaign method of the left wing press’. It will be the first time the OSCE will send a fully-fledged international mission to the country, so far, the organisation only sent small, limited observation missions for the last elections in 2018, 2014, and 2010, wrote Reuters. 

But then moving on to Spain, where a labour campaign reform caused political chaos?

It’s hard to believe what happened in the congress last week. Aitor Hernández-Morales, POLITICO Journalist, described the issue on twitter as the most ‘bananas’ moment of the day. The congress needed to vote on a landmark labour reform proposed by the government and led by Yolanda Díaz, member of Unidas Podemos. At the very last minute two Members of the Parliament from a regional party decided to change their vote. Surprisingly enough for the whole chamber, the initiative went through thanks to a conservative MP who made a mistake when casting his vote. “Oups, right-wing MP misses the mark on labour market reform” mocked François-Xavier Gomez in Libération.  That mistake was not the only one that Member of the Parliament Alberto Casero made that day, he casted a wrong vote in another two voting on the same day publishes el Periódico de España. This result was really important since, according to Euronews, the approval of the bill will mean the unlocking of billions of Euros in European Union aid.

Okay … but why was this so controversial in the first place?

The opposition is not happy with the result, and started accusing the government of playing a dirty game. RFI describes the vote as rocky and contested. Deutsche Welle publishes that Spain passed landmark labor reform thanks to 'computer error'. According to Belén Carreño, Reuters, the conservative party tried to cancel the result. A lawmaker from the party voted remotely for the reform, which the party blamed on a computer error, claiming in a statement that the Member of the Parliament "voted no, but on the screen the vote appeared as yes", she explains. Even if the popular party claimed that it was a technical issue what changed the result of the voting, in the last days they have recognized that there was a mistake, putting now their focus on the president of the chamber, who didn’t let the Member of the Parliament vote again, says Ignacio Escolar in El Diario.

Source photo : European People's Party