The Viktator, Europe’s bad-boy, has secured another resounding victory in Hungary’s most recent election.
Viktor Orbán, once a liberal hero and professional football manager has now become the face of Europe’s illiberal, nationalist, and Eurosceptic political forces.
Now, after a resounding victory, he will only continue his campaign to erode Hungary’s democratic institutions and push its hard nationalist, anti-migrant, and anti-EU message.
In the 21st century, Orbán’s rise and dominance of a European country is alarming and worrying, and it is something we should all be worried about.
His authoritarian rule of Hungary should remind us all how precious democracy actually is, and not to take it for granted.
The Viktator has manipulated democracy in Hungary for his own means. Like Putin in Russia, Orbán has tightened control of the Hungarian media and judiciary, making it difficult for his opponents to outmanoeuvre him.
His degradation of these two key institutions, which are a key part of any democratic society, has allowed him to remain in power unchallenged.
Elections in Hungary, like those for seats within the Hungarian Parliament, just serve as a rubber stamp for all his wishes.
Orbán has changed the constitution so many times during his time in office, it looks unrecognisable to what it did before his administration when democracy was first established after the collapse of communism.
As a result of Orbán’s rule in Hungary, Hungary is ranked as a “flawed democracy” according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in their Democracy Index.
Since 2002, Orbán’s Fidesz party has never gotten below 40% of the vote in a national election. A clever tactic Orbán has exploited is the fact Hungary’s opposition to him is so divided and ineffective.
His disgusting anti-migrant and anti-Islam message has managed to keep him in power for far too long.
Using fear, Orbán has contributed to the rise of Hungary’s Jobbik movement, a party so far-right that one of its members referred to the Holocaust as the “Holoscam“, and until recently it had its own paramilitary wing.
Alarmingly, it has now become Hungary’s second largest and main opposition party!
With Orbán attacking and degrading his opponents from every angle, nobody has emerged to challenge him, and his dominance over Hungary has continued with fear serving as his main tool of rule.
With Jobbik now becoming the main opposition to Orbán, he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Orbán has made it impossible for a credible alternative to exist, and it has reinforced his rule over Hungary.
Orbán has continually used people’s fears to remain in power. Hungary has pursued one of the harshest policies towards refugees and asylum seekers.
Orbán has famously compared the refugee crises consuming Europe as a “Muslim invasion”.
By invoking nationalism and Hungary’s right-wing, Orbán has remained both popular and in power despite the numerous allegations of corruption and abuse of power. Orbán has in effect become a ‘democratic dictator’.
What is most alarming about Orbán’s dominance in Hungary is the lack of a response from the European Union. The President of the EU commission famously joked that Orbán was “a dictator” at an EU summit.
However, this is no laughing matter, as while the EU might be taking a hard line against the UK in Brexit negotiations, Orbán’s style of politics is gaining traction with parties within other EU member states.
Law and Justice in Poland, following Orbán’s examples of reforming the media and judiciary, slowly and steadily are turning Poland into another Hungary.
While in Austria, Sebastian Kurz’s populist Orbán-style campaign on immigration and refugee policies resulted in him becoming Austria’s Chancellor. If the European Union is not careful, ‘mini- Orbáns’ could pop up everywhere and push their hardline anti-migrant and Eurosceptic messages to the heart of Brussels.
A message which will clearly be anti-EU and potentially catastrophic for the European project. The failure of many leaders in the EU like Macron or Merkel to condemn Orbán and his type of politics is alarming and shows the amount of fear Orbán is spreading across the EU.
His anti-migrant and Islamophobic rhetoric is clearly striking a chord with many voters in the EU as well as his own country.
For the future of European politics and democracy itself, Orbán’s victory is a sign that the line between illiberal rule and democracy is becoming more blurred.
It is likely Trump has taken note of Orbán’s tactics and has copied them in his bid for re-election in 2020.
Orbán’s successful re-election is a worrying sign that this plague of populist and authoritarian attitudes sweeping across the EU and the Western world is not over yet, and if it is not contained soon, many countries could end up in the hands of politicians like ‘The Viktator’.