(DER SPIEGEL) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán only needed a few years. In that short time he managed to turn his country inside out. Civil liberties and press freedoms were reined in, the democratic separation of powers annulled, and a constitution passed in the spirit of the country’s former authoritarian-nationalistic leader Miklós Horthy.
Hungary is politically isolated in the European Union, and on the verge of national insolvency. And now the European Commission has launched legal action against the country. Brussels sees Orbán’s constitutional reform as a violation of EU law, and is threatening to deny economic aid to the heavily indebted country. It’s a remarkable development for a country once seen as a model for reform to be emulated by other countries in the region.