The Week (US)

An autocrat’s landslide victory


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 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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