Monday, April 04, 2022

Hungarian elections: Putin's man in Europe survives

Hungary went to the polls today in parliamentary elections, in which would-be dictator Viktor Orbán - Putin's man in Europe - was facing a unified opposition for the first time since taking power in 2010. Unfortunately, it didn't go well:

Viktor Orbán has won a fourth successive term as Hungary’s prime minister, capping a campaign dominated by his controversial stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a speech that appeared to mock Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian leader.

Ecstatic chants of “Viktor, Viktor” greeted Orbán as he addressed supporters of his Fidesz party outside its election headquarters on the banks of the Danube in Budapest as results made the scale of his victory apparent.

With nearly 86% of the vote counted on Sunday night, Fidesz was on course to increase its parliamentary majority by winning 135 seats in the 199-member parliament, crushing a six-party opposition bloc that united to form a common front aimed at unseating Orbán.

Instead, the ruling party has retained its two-thirds super majority, which has enabled it to reshape Hungarian politics and social policy during its 12 years in power.

Fidesz won just over 50% of the vote, but Hungary's unfair electoral system magnified that into a two-thirds majority. And this will further enable Hungary's slow transition from a democracy into an authoroitarian dictatorship. Orbán has already gone quite a way along that path (and went further, with pre-election amendments to electoral law to limit the ability of the opposition to contest elections), and unfortunately it looks like it will stay on that path. So now it will be up to the European Union to protect Hungarian democracy. On that front, there's already ongoing court action, and a cut in funding from the EU. And the war in Ukraine and resulting split between Poland (which is firmly anti-Russian) and Hungary has likely deprived Hungary of political cover in the EU council, potentially allowing further action.