Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was elected to a second consecutive term on Sunday, amid criticism from international observers that the ruling party “enjoyed an undue advantage” during the campaign, according to reports.
The early vote count showed that Mr. Orban’s Fidesz party and a small conservative ally would keep a two-thirds majority, with 133 seats in the country’s 199-member Parliament, The New York Times reports:
The vote, held Sunday, showed increasing support for the radical right Jobbik party, which won just more than 20 percent of the vote on national party lists, 4 percentage points higher than in 2010, and was expected to have 23 seats in Parliament. …..On Monday, a statement from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe echoed worries some observers had expressed about the election, saying that the new electoral rules gave Mr. Orban’s party an advantage and citing what it called “biased” media coverage and “the blurring of the separation between a ruling political party and the state.”….
Experts said the results showed the maturation of the radical-right Jobbik party, known for its paramilitary arm and openly anti-Semitic and anti-Roma views.
“Jobbik’s improved electoral turnout shows not only a strengthening of the party but also a mainstreaming of the party,” said Erin Saltman, an expert on Hungarian politics based in London. “More Hungarians are seeing Jobbik as a legitimate party option.”
Vladimir Putin will doubtless send congratulations as the weekend re-election of Orban’s Fidesz government assures the Russian president of a sympathetic voice in the councils of Europe, writes FT analyst Philp Stephens:
Orban has drawn closer to Moscow. Last week he accepted Mr Putin’s offer of a €10bn long-term credit to finance new Russian-built nuclear power capacity….
Once a ferocious critic of the Soviet Union and of post-communist Russia, Mr Orban now shares Mr Putin’s cultural conservatism and disdain for western “decadence”. Both leaders subscribe to a collectivist state capitalism that sets the state above private enterprise. As in Russia, foreigners who invest in Hungary cannot expect the protection of the rule of law. Once among the most promising former communist states, Hungary has become a backwater.
In the next four years, Orbán will try to consolidate his power by rooting out challenges and challengers to his authority, says Charles Gati, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins’s Foreign Policy Institute, and the editor of Zbig: The Strategy and Statecraft of Zbigniew Brzezinski:
Having lost faith in the value of Western-style democracy, he’ll deprive the country’s Constitutional Court of its residual authority and he’ll stamp out what remains of the small Budapest-based free press. Although he has so far accepted NATO’s security umbrella and the E.U.’s financial benefits, he’ll continue to ignore Western advice and warnings about his policies.
“Preoccupied with more pressing problems, Western governments don’t seem to see the need to revive and, indeed, deepen the post-World War II integrationist momentum that has brought peace, prosperity and democratic values to Europe, including Central Europe,” Gati writes for The Washington Post.
“Yet if they pay no attention to anti-Western trends in Hungary, Turkey, Greece, and elsewhere in Europe and its periphery — a trend some fear might soon spread to Poland — they, and the United States, will find themselves isolated from a growing number of their allies in an increasingly hostile world.” RTWT