In his 12 years in power, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has ruthlessly pursued what he calls “illiberal democracy,” Rob Picheta and Balint Bardi said CNN (New York). He changed the Hungarian constitution in favor of his right-wing nationalist Fidesz party, tightened his grip on the judiciary and brought much of the media under his control. He has posed as a defender of the nation against leftists, the EU and George Soros, the Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist whom he accuses of plotting to flood Hungary with Muslim immigrants.
But even after all that pitching of the playing field, pollsters had still predicted a close race when voters went to the polls last week. In case said Nepszava (Budapest), it was anything but. Orbán’s Fidesz won an overwhelming victory with 54% of the vote and 135 seats, enough to retain the supermajority it needs to change the constitution and see Orbán begin his fourth straight term. The opposition alliance United for Hungary, on the other hand, achieved only 34% and 57 seats.
Orbán brilliantly read the mood of his country, said Dorottya Szikra and Mitchell A. Orenstein in The standard (Vienna). His tax breaks for families resonated with Conservatives, as did his intolerance of gay rights (although a referendum on LGBT rights was not passed on Election Day).
At the same time, his economic interventions attracted voters from all walks of life. To offset rising inflation caused by the “boom” he’s been instigating over the past seven years, he capped the prices of some staples this year. And before the vote, he announced a freeze on gas prices, a 20 percent increase in the minimum wage and other freebies. Opposition leader Péter Márki-Zay only got five minutes of airtime on state television during the election campaign; but he also made the mistake of mocking Orbán’s policies without offering a “strong alternative”.
It’s worth remembering, said Tomáš Brolík in respect (Prague) that Orbán, although now an unabashed nationalist, began his political life as a liberal freedom fighter. A bright young man from a rural family, he studied law in Soviet-era Budapest, where he became politicized. With his long hair and denim jackets, he had an aversion to communist conformity and founded the supposedly liberal Alliance of Young Democrats with fellow students – a forerunner of Fidesz. In 1988 he asked Soviet troops to leave Hungary when the regime collapsed.
But since then, instead of fighting against dictators and autocrats, it was said The economist, Orbán has gotten used to them. He has maintained “friendly relations with Vladimir Putin” for a long time and since the invasion of Ukraine he has spoken out resolutely against EU sanctions against Russian energy exports. In his victory speech last week, he even went as far as the lineup President of Ukraine Zelenskyy as one of Hungary’s “opponents”.
This refusal to join other NATO allies on Russia is just one of many reasons why Orbán’s election victory is bad news for the EU, Lili Bayer said politico.eu (Brussels). He has made no secret of his desire to “create an alliance of nationalist and far-right forces in Europe” by befriending the likes of France’s Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. He is also corrupt and has diverted billions of EU regional funds to his supporters.
Orbán’s clashes with Brussels have already prompted the EU to deny Hungary access to its Covid recovery fund, Martin Ehl said in Hospodarske Noviny (Prague). And two days after its election victory, Brussels followed suit: in an unprecedented move, it unleashed a measure that could see Hungary slashing remaining EU funds if Budapest continues to violate the rule of law.
Orbán seems “isolated” in other ways, too: his stance on Russia has driven a wedge between Hungary and its ally Poland, which has unequivocally criticized Putin’s invasion. Still, a bitter truth remains: Orbán’s “overwhelming” victory means that, at least for the foreseeable future, the EU will have within its ranks a state “closer to autocracy than to democracy”.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/europe/956432/why-viktor-orban-re-election-bad-brussels-good-putin Why Viktor Orbán’s re-election is bad for Brussels and good for Putin