Can Europe Cope with Orban's Landslide Victory?


having been in power since 2010 Hungary's premier victor Orban has once again, secured another term in office Sunday's election saw a landslide victory for the ruling fides party winning 53 percent of the vote in an alliance with the kdnp despite running together as one electoral alliance the six main opposition parties have received just 35 percent of the vote even as a unified bloc the opposition actually managed to winless seats than when they ran separately meaning that Orban will maintain a constitutional majority in the Hungarian parliament for the fourth term in a row this is quite staggering considering how long auburn has been in politics and had more than his fair share of scandals having led Fidesz in every one of the nine elections since the fall of communism this is the fifth election he's won so what stands behind Orban's political longevity and how did he win this election despite the continued accusations of corruption and authoritarianism so, let's start with the question who actually, votes for auburn the middle lower class the unemployed and the elderly tend to vote for Fidesz in some part because they benefit from the government's generous social policies public works labor law deregulation and other endowments have all created economic opportunity for many rural voters Orban's government has also introduced extensive welfare programs for new families Hungarian political scientist Laszlo Brust described Fidesz voters as profoundly patriotic Orban makes constant references to Hungary's historical greatness and keen on traditional Hungarian values which given that most Hungarians are Christian are essentially conservative pro-family values fides's low tax rate means it also has some appeal with the more wealthy segments of the Hungarian middle class it's also worth noting that Orban has pursued various policies to consolidate his grip on power let's start with the electoral system itself which was drafted by fides in 2010 after it won a two-thirds majority allowing it to make changes to the constitution today the 199 member of the Hungarian national assembly are elected using what's called the alternative member system 106 members are elected by first past the post in single-member constituencies and the remaining 93 seats are decided by proportional representation system voters are given two votes one for their local constituency and one for the proportional representation list this system advantages larger parties at the expense of smaller ones which is how FedEx are able to win 135 seats 68 of the seats available with just 53 percent of the vote, it's not just the electoral system which benefits auburn though Orban has also helped himself by granting citizenship to over a million ethnic Hungarians living outside the country who overwhelmingly support for deaths in one poll Fidesz received a staggering 91 points among Hungarians living in Romania sponsors of the opposition are apparently blacklisted from receiving government contracts and state subsidies which are instead awarded to pro-auburn businessmen chief amongst them is Hungary's wealthiest man who just so happens to be auburn's childhood friend while not under direct censorship Hungarian media space is mostly tilted in favor of the government state-owned media is apparently vehemently pro-government with little space for opposition politicians and private media is still in the hands of pro-government oligarchs Orban has also reshuffled the judicial system to his advantage creating a parallel court system to deal with human rights-related cases like elections asylum and political protests where judges and court presidents are essentially decided by the government you get the point Walford s did indeed win a heavy majority it wasn't really an even playing field which is why the osce has described Hungary's last two elections as not fair and will probably do the same with this one but even the osce admits that Hungary's elections while they're not fair are at least free which begs the question how did the opposition do so badly well the first thing to say is that this actually isn't the first time the Hungarian opposition have tried an electoral coalition a bunch of left-wing parties including the Hungarian socialist party democratic coalition and dialogue for Hungary formed an electoral pact in 2014 to challenge Fidesz but ended up winning just 27 percent of the vote far less than the 44 percent of the vote for dec one which translated into a healthy 133 seat super supermajority wanting to prevent a repeat of this scenario this new coalition decided to expand the alliance to include the green party momentum movement and jobic but while this might have widened their appeal a bit the coalition which includes post-communist left-wingers liberal reformers and even former neo-Nazis from jobic has struggled to present a united front in an attempt to create a consensus the opposition bloc decided to hold its own primary and elect a unifying figure that they could all rally around a small-town mayor without any party affiliation was nominated as the leader of the united opposition becoming Orban's first proper challenger in years he campaigned on a broad anti-corruption appeal pushing for integration with EU and compliance with its rules and a commitment to individual liberties and protection of minorities the coalition constantly blasted Orban for seemingly stirring up hate and division and mainly for driving hungry into isolation within the EU and Nato given the current situation in Ukraine many observers expected that Orban's special relationship with Vladimir Putin would his public image however the upcoming energy and refugee crisis was presented by the government media as another existential threat which auburn was protecting Hungarians from declaring his commitment to peace and continuing energy imports from Russia Orban was once again seen putting the interests of ordinary Hungarians before those of the crooked international elite and the opposition struggled to present a viable counter-narrative the coalition were also outflanked by a far-right movement formed by former jovik deputies who resisted Bobek's inclusion in the more moderate coalition ultimately jobex sabotaged the electability of marquis Zai's alliance by being too right-wing while me hasn't picked up disaffected voters who felt betrayed by jobex collaboration with left-wing liberal parties winning six percent of the vote all in all, it looks like the opposition hasn't learned from the mistakes of the 2014 election united for Hungary came across as ideologically confused and ran a mostly negative campaign focused on reversing auburn's most illiberal policies and it looks like ultimately Hungarian voters were willing to give auburn some leeway as long as he offers security and stability this is why Hungary is staying on the same course, it's been on for the past 12 years and Orban will likely consolidate his power even further having been emboldened by a strengthened mandate.