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Hungarian democracy seen in poor state

Hungary’s democratic system has deteriorated in the past year, according to a report released by Washington-based civil liberties monitor Freedom House.

The Nations in Transit 2011 review states that the greatest step backwards was the ratification of Hungary’s controversial media law during the first year of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s new government.

Freedom House also noted that the Fidesz-KDNP cabinet enacted several retroactive measures which are questionable in their fairness and additionally passed legislation that contributed to increasing the vulnerability of employees in their workplaces.

These steps, which the report deems greatly weakened the rule of law in the country, marked the greatest setback in Hungary’s democratic development since the transition in 1989, Freedom House said.

The government responded by stressing that freedom of the media is in no way endangered by the standing regulations.

State secretary in charge of government communication Zoltán Kovács said that the Freedom House report ignores earlier, positive conclusions reached by the European Commission on the matter, as well as its own findings from May, when it raised none of the concerns that are now cited.