BUDAPEST — Veronika Mora was getting ready for work when her home phone rang. “I’m at your office,” she recalls a policewoman telling her. “Where are you?”
Mora, the head of a nonprofit agency that distributed millions of euros in grants to government watchdogs including Transparency International, arrived 30 minutes later to find two dozen officers waiting for her on a crisp Budapest morning last fall. For hours, they combed through file cabinets and downloaded data on organizations that had been deeply critical of the Hungarian government.
The government called it part of an operation seeking to watch the watchdogs, holding them accountable for potential mismanagement and financial irregularities. But to Mora and others, it smacked of harassment. It also signaled a new normal in a country that has emerged as a troubling portent for Europe’s future.
From France to Finland, right-wing nationalists are gaining at the polls, with a radical new coalition of the far left and far right taking over in Greece last month. Across the continent, it is raising a disquieting question: How might European nations change under this rising club of new nationalists?