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FT: Orbán, Polish leader discuss shared values

Following a secretive meeting yesterday in southern Poland between Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, president of Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, critics speculated that the pair may be collaborating on plans to further undermine the EU’s democratic values, according to a report by the Financial Times published yesterday evening.

A long-time Orbán supporter, Kaczynski (pictured) is seen by many as the key figure behind Warsaw’s ultra-conservative Law and Justice party, which came to power in October, the Financial Times reported, adding that the party has been employing similar, allegedly anti-democratic tactics as those used by the ruling Fidesz party to secure its power.

International media has widely criticized the new Polish government for attempts at increasing state influence over the constitutional court and media since it was elected.

The two leaders also share “Eurosceptic, patriotic-conservative, pro-Catholic, and anti-immigration stances”, according to the Financial Times, and similarly, both were ousted from power following their first term but made a comeback after taking time away to regroup.

Mirroring the sweeping changes that Fidesz undertook in Hungary starting in 2010, Polandʼs Law and Justice party has replaced important institutional leaders, including the director of the Warsaw stock exchange and heads of a number of key state-owned companies, only four weeks after being elected into office. The party has also taken over political control of the constitutional court in a mere 12 days. It is essentially a fast-tracked version of what happened in Budapest, Poland’s incoming opposition leader Grzegorz Schetyna said, according to FT.

Without the two-thirds majority that Fidesz enjoyed until early last year, however, Law and Justice is faced with some limitations. And unlike Hungary, Poland still has reasonable opposition parties, which Kim Lane Scheppele, a Central Europe expert at Princeton University said could prevent the EU from intervening, FT added.