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The EU Must Terminate Hungary's Membership

The West’s meltdown in Afghanistan shows that democratic institutions cannot be established by force and foreign aid. The lesson for the European Union should be clear: if it does not lead by example and expel its own authoritarians, its stated commitment to democracy will mean nothing.

BOSTON – Following Hungary’s adoption of legislation banning “LGBTQ content” in schools this past June, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte concluded that the country “has no place in the EU anymore.” He’s right. The European Union should begin the process of expelling Hungary, and it should then consider doing the same with Poland.

Over the past decade, Hungary and Poland have consistently undermined the rule of law and democratic institutions, which are supposed to be at the core of the European project. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s self-styled “illiberal democracy” is a misnomer: there is no longer any democracy to speak of. Courts are increasingly under the control of Orbán’s Fidesz party; the media have little freedom left; civil-society organizations operate under constant threat; and universities have already been stripped of what little autonomy they had.

In Poland, meanwhile, the similarly authoritarian ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), has openly followed in Orbán’s footsteps. Though it has not yet cowed civil society and the opposition to the same degree, it is steadily undermining the country’s democratic institutions.

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