Just how should the EU react when a leader in a country like Romania threatens to undermine the democratic principles the entire European project stands for? Apparently it depends on what political party the accused underminer hails from.
Last year, when the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban – whose Fidesz party is a member of the EU’s centre-right political grouping, the European People’s Party – rammed through his parliament a controversial media law critics believed granted him overweening powers to mute press critics, the Socialists & Democrats – the EU’s centre-left group – were outraged.
“We cannot allow Hungary or any other government to drive a coach and horses through the fundamental values of the European Union,” insisted German MEP Martin Schultz, then the head of the S&D group in the European parliament.
Now, Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta – whose Social Democratic party is a member of the S&D group – has moved to impeach his political rival, centre-right president Traian Basescu; fired the country’s ombudsman; and curtailed the powers of the constitutional court. How has the S&D responded?