26th Oct 2016

German politicians outraged at Orban's Nazi jibe

German politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed their outrage after Hungary's Viktor Orban compared Angela Merkel's policies to the Nazi invasion ordered by Adolf Hitler.

“The Germans already sent the cavalry once, in the form of tanks,” Orban said in his weekly radio broadcast on Friday (18 May) in reference to the Nazi occupation of 1944.

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“Our request would be that they did not send them again. It wasn't a good idea back then and it didn't work,” Orban added.

He was referring to comments made a day earlier by Chancellor Merkel who in a public debate said she would

"do everything to put Hungary back on track. But we won't be sending in the cavalry right away."

Merkel herself was speaking out against a comment during the same debate by her Social Democrat rival Peer Steinbrueck, who said Hungary's EU voting rights should be suspended due to democratic backsliding.

With a super majority in the Hungarian Parliament, Orban's government has passed a series of constitutional reforms critics say limit the independence of media, judiciary and economy. The EU commission has had several rows with Budapest on the matter.

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday during a visit to Belgrade said Orban's remarks are a "regrettable derailment we strongly reject."

The head of the foreign affairs committee in the German Bundestag, Ruprecht Polenz, also criticised the Hungarian leader's words. "Orban increasingly burdens the traditionally good relationship between Germany and Hungary," Spiegel magazine quoted him as saying.

Hitler comparisons have so far been "reserved to Greek protesters", but to have it come from Orban shows an "increasing loss of the sense of reality."

"Orban is driving his country further into isolation," the Christian Democrat MP concluded.

Social Democrat and Green politicians meanwhile have urged the European People's Party (EPP) - to which Orban's Conservative Fidesz party belongs - to take a clear stance against him.

"A debate is due about this in the EPP," said European Parliament chief and Social Democrat member Martin Schulz. His Green colleague Daniel-Cohn Bendit asked "how long they will watch Orban's actions without doing anything?".

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

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