An au­to­crat’s land­slide vic­tory

The Week (US) - - 14 News -

Hun­gar­i­ans have “sent a clear mes­sage to Brus­sels” that we will de­fend our home­land, said in Idok (Hun­gary). Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban’s rul­ing right-wing coali­tion won a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in the par­lia­ment in this week’s elec­tion, de­liv­er­ing Or­ban his third straight term and the leg­isla­tive su­per­ma­jor­ity he needs to change the con­sti­tu­tion. And be­cause Or­ban is now one of Europe’s most ex­pe­ri­enced lead­ers, “his voice will be heeded” in Euro­pean af­fairs. At the next sum­mit of Euro­pean Union lead­ers in June, Brus­sels will try to im­pose a refugee quota sys­tem and force Hun­gary to ac­cept 10,000 for­eign mi­grants a year. But Or­ban will pro­tect Hun­gary as a Chris­tian na­tion, as the heart of Europe—just as he did in 2015, when he closed our bor­ders and built a 100-mile fence to stop hun­dreds of thou­sands of Syr­ian, North African, and other mi­grants from pour­ing into the coun­try. “To­day Hun­gary had a de­ci­sive vic­tory,” Or­ban said in his ac­cep­tance speech. “We have the chance to de­fend Hun­gary.”

Step one will be the pas­sage of “Stop Soros” leg­is­la­tion, said Hun­gary’s Del­mag­ Amer­i­can bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros— a Jewish Hun­gar­ian émi­gré—has funded civil-so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions here and across Cen­tral Europe “with the goal of re­mov­ing all phys­i­cal, le­gal, and po­lit­i­cal ob­sta­cles to mi­gra­tion, so that Europe is over­run” with mi­grants, says Jus­tice Min­istry State Sec­re­tary Pal Vol­ner. The Stop Soros Act, which will be among the first bills to go be­fore the new par­lia­ment, will tax such groups at 25 per­cent and al­low the In­te­rior Min­istry to shut them down. That “anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­ory” is just one sign of Or­ban’s grow­ing au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism, said Alexan­der Jungkunz in Nürn­berger Nachrichten (Ger­many). Since 2010, Or­ban has “sys­tem­at­i­cally erad­i­cated” demo­cratic norms, the in­de­pen­dence of Hun­gary’s ju­di­ciary, and press free­dom—the main op­po­si­tion news­pa­per, Mag­yar Nemzet, shut­tered days af­ter his lat­est win. And while this week’s elec­tion was not overtly tam­pered with, it wasn’t fair, ei­ther: The Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe said “in­tim­i­dat­ing and xeno­pho­bic rhetoric, me­dia bias, and opaque cam­paign fi­nanc­ing” pre­vented gen­uine com­pe­ti­tion. Lead­ing up to the vote and on elec­tion day it­self, state-run TV aired footage from 2015 of brown-skinned mi­grants surg­ing to­ward Hun­gary’s bor­der, and por­trayed Or­ban as the coun­try’s sav­ior. Or­ban’s elec­toral tri­umph means that his crude tac­tics will surely be copied by pop­ulists else­where in Europe, in­clud­ing Ger­many’s far-right Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party and Poland’s rul­ing Law and Jus­tice.

The EU shouldn’t tol­er­ate it, said Jennifer Rankin in The Guardian (U.K.). Hun­gary is heav­ily de­pen­dent on the bloc’s cash— get­ting $5.5 bil­lion from Brus­sels in 2016 alone—and much of that money has flowed to Or­ban’s al­lies. At the same time Or­ban is dip­ping his hand in the EU’s cof­fers, he is cut­ting all fund­ing at home for pro-EU me­dia and NGOs. Since Hun­gary is “mak­ing an exit from the club’s lib­eral val­ues,” Europe needs to ask why it is “con­tin­u­ing to pick up the checks.”

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