Viktor Orbán has set his sights on political hegemony.
Hummmm. As I read this, I thought I was reading about California and the Democrat Party there. I had to double check the headline several times. Orbán must have talked to the folks in California and stolen their playbook.
As for a captured "State Media", we certainly have that in the USA. We call it CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and even PBS, yet no one says 'boo' about it. The best we get is complaints that Tucker Carlson and/or Fox News are Russian puppets. These people certainly know what a puppet is alright.
The fact is the people of Hungary have spoken and spoken loudly. They want someone in power who means what he says and says what he means and that is Viktor Orbán.
Hungarians appreciated Orbán's message, and they trust him to deliver on it.
Is it wrong for people to want:
- Respect for a sovereign and secure Hungary denoted by REAL ENFORCED borders? or
- Respect for traditional Hungarian values (Yes, I know these sound very strange: family, hard-work, religion)? or
- To be left alone to pursue their lives?
Let's be honest, the discontent is largely driven by the Alphabet Mafia: LGBTQIA+. They want to completely upend society, including elimination of the traditional family structure. If you don't think so, then why are people required to believe that men can have babies too? Or let's look at the nomination of someone to the highest court in the most powerful country in the world who refused to define what a woman is because this person (a woman) said she's not a biologist.
The Hungarian people see this. They are not stupid, and they want no part of it at all - whether from Brussels or Washington.
For those who have not been there, the majority of Hungarian people are very poor. They truly have very little, but they are very generous people (probably to a fault) who appreciate what they do have. Outside of the few major Hungarian cities, these people face a very meager and difficult existence on a daily basis. I would love to see someone from the 'left' (whatever that means these days) try and tell one of these 'simple-minded' voters who have been 'captured by Orbán's rhetoric that the difference between a 'man' and 'woman' is the costume the individual chooses to wear. They would laugh in their face. Hungarians know better.
While I very much appreciate the author's right to her opinion and she is clearly entitled to express her views, I am only surprised by the fact that Orbán's margin of victory was not bigger.
"But the fact remains that in Hungary, even if the opposition does everything right, it is nearly impossible to replace Fidesz during elections. Since the party returned to power in 2010, the country has seen the deepest erosion of democracy in the European Union. Orbán has successfully manipulated Hungary’s system in order to translate popular support into an unbeatable electoral majority. He provides a textbook example of how autocrats can erode liberal democracy while facing minimal consequences."
This paragraph could be rephrased: "But the fact remains that in Hungary, even if the opposition [tries its hardest], it is nearly impossible to replace Fidesz during elections. Since the party returned to power in 2010, the country has [overwhelmingly supported Fidesz through the democratic process]. Orban has successfully [campaigned and garnered democratic support and has translated that support] into an unbeatable electoral majority. He provides a textbook example of how [elected officials can win elections by standing up for national interests in the face of international pressure]."
The problem with these articles in Persuasion about alleged anti-democratic measures taken by the populists of Europe is that they are always written by people who hate their values.
I am opposed to efforts to undermine democracy, full stop. Which means I oppose Fidesz rigging elections, if it is true that that is what they are doing. But I also fully support Hungarian voters if they oppose the efforts of globalists to undermine their national sovereignty and traditional culture and society, and further those interests by winning at the ballot box.
This article is actually more fair-minded that most, in allowing that Orban's policies are legitimately very popular in Hungary.
It is interesting that Persuasion, which purports to be so concerned about democracy, has never written an article about how undemocratic it is that population change policies in Europe always seem to be so dramatically at odds with the desires of European electorates, and have been for decades.
This is a poor piece on a number of issues, and I am happy to write a rejoinder. But, in the meantime, some facts:
-There is very little evidence of serious gerrymandering in Hungary. Part of this is the function of the principles established for drawing district lines (stay within counties, and maintain the integrity of Budapest districts)
-There is evidence of malapportionment in the reforms of 2011 and 2014 but they actually were LESS malapportioned than others. Not a little either.
- Orban reduced the size of the legislature *to the optimum size deemed the standard by political scientists* from a dreadfully oversized parliament before (which was WHY the districts were redrawn)
- The electoral system reform in 2011 did make the electoral system more majoritarian like that of the UK, Malta, or the United States House, and these systems substantially over-reward plurality winners to deliver decisive majorities. It is barely a Mixed system at all, but it was left more mixed than it could have (They kept proportionality rules).
- They lowered the threshold for ethnic minority parties to get in parliament (as nationalist authoritarians bent on domination do, I guess?). Ah, but that is a dastardly trick too, because then they won't as eagerly join the opposition pre-electoral coalition! The less democratic and more democratic elements all point to authoritarianism. How... tautological.
All told, via the electoral process there is startling little evidence of even remotely norm-breaking shenangans. The talk of predatory partisan gerrymanders is borderline disinformation.
As I have written elsewhere, there are worrying aspects to Hungary, and Orban's goals vis-a-vis changes in power (As with any leader) are not perfectly clear. However, the problems faced in Hungary are the same pressures faced across the West. The declines we see are the same as those across the West. There is virtually no serious threat to democracy in Hungary that isn't present in countries like the US, the UK, the NL, and countless other countries.
Even one of the main worries of the EU regarding electoral integrity (mail in ballot's sans ID) is considered a major democratic advance in the United States. In Hungary: Bad. IN America: Good!
Why? Excellent question.
Hungary, as all of our Democracies, is in a fragile place right now, but its biggest problem is its opposition in the new constitutional system. The REAL shenangan was that moving from a more proportional to a more majoritarian system of representation the largest most unified part was advantaged in terms of winning seats. The divided opposition is a problem, as is its poor campaigning. They are losing because they are bad at winning. Yes, there is some bias in the larger media system. But, even before that, liberal and left publications were not able to draw large circulations, and political entrepreneurs outside the right seemed as interested in working with the voters they had, as they are now interested in competing withing the constitutional system they have.
The solution, is that the opposition leadership in various parties give up power and merge into a larger party capable of capturing real vote share in the constituency districts. But absolutely none of them, nor their constituents, or their interest groups have any interest in that or playing in a majoritarian system.
So, they turn to propaganda and 'political sciencey' looking analyses that are ultimately motivated political studies almost entirely unsubstantiated. These coalitions in Hungary do not want this majoritarian system because it harms their office interests, not the policy or governance interests of Hungary. Indeed, their refusal to get realistic about the new political world they live in is why they lost the election.
Orban is and was eminently beatable by a strong center right liberal with a national rather than internationalist orientation. But the small groups of educated, international, and left Hungarians don't want that. They want to win without winning elections in this system. They look to the EU to enforce policies on their fellow citizens that they can't win at the ballot box. They look to international pressure. All this, of course, just plays into Orban's narrative (how is it we lose).
So if this kind of liberal myopia, bad politics, and myopia sounds familiar, it should. Because it's the exact same kind of thing we are seeing from left-leaning parties across the West, and they keep losing. 'I don't like the system, and it doesn't advantage me, so it's undemocratic' Sounds familar. It's the Democratic complaint about the US Senate and Electoral College. Democrats SHOULDN'T HAVE TO patrongize the great unsophisticated unwashed in rural states, and Democrats shouldn't have to campaign in tiny places if it means compromising on their desires for deep blue urban areas so its all so very unfair. (check out the electoral bias in House elections in the 1960's sometime)
Unable to win via democratic means, the liberal left appeal to courts, dominance in non-state institutions, international pressure, international courts, media, or conspiracy to force policies they cannot win at the ballot box and stand aghast as *how it could be possible they are not liked by the masses!* It's the liberal conundrum. And, it's explained usually by boogeymen (always men).
Let's try some numbers here. Orban won 2,847,363 votes. The opposion parties won 1,810,994 and 319,261 votes. The bottom line is Orban won 57% of the popular vote.
In California, every TV station, every newspaper (that I know of), every politician, every corporation, etc. supported Proposition 16 (to legalize racism in CA). Only the people said no. The establishment was very upset (and still is).
I read it as a causal argument based on a counter-factual. If some day an opposition would have won (given free press etc) but was prevented from winning because of gerrymandering, a biased court, payoffs, and voter suppression, then you could no longer call that country democratic. History shows again and again that any autocratic regime will not have overwhelming popular support forever. But once the conditions for democratic governance are gone, they are very difficult to restore.
What would the vote counts have been, exactly, without the gerrymandering, payoffs, control over public information, etc? Please give me the numbers.
(I would also point out that the vote counts in autocratic nations tend to remain very impressive long past the point where the government has lost public support.)