In what has been a blow to the gut of many Hungarians, the radical right Fidesz party has won a third term in power. Fidesz-KDNP won by a large plurality of the vote, up to 48.51% from 44.87% in the 2014 national elections. On 14th April, it was announced that Fidesz had kept their two-thirds majority, with 133 seats out of 199. In other words, Viktor Orbán has secured his party’s future by dominating the Hungarian parliament.
Opposition parties did not fare so well. Jobbik went from 20.22% in 2014 to 19.51% in the most recent elections, but gained three seats and now sit at 26 as of the current parliament. Many say the Left failed as they could not form one united coalition party, and indeed did remain quite divided. The coalition party MSZP-Párbeszéd (MSZP-Dialogue) went from 29 seats as part of the Unity coalition in 2014 to just 20 seats now, DK (Democratic Coalition) went from four seats to nine, LMP (Politics Can Be Different) went from five seats to eight, and Együtt (Together) went from three seats to only one. Many were hopeful that the newly-formed Momentum, a party formed mostly by young University graduates, would win at least one seat in parliament, but, although they won more votes than Együtt, they could not secure the threshold to enter parliament.
The week following the elections has been nothing short of eventful. Immediately following the initial election results, Jobbik’s leader Gábor Vona announced his resignation, via Facebook, from Jobbik’s leadership and from parliamentary politics. Leaders of the socialist party coalition MSZP-Párbeszéd also resigned, as well as the leader of Együtt, and the co-president of LMP.
While the number of people voting hit nearly record numbers (68.8% compared to 61.73% in 2014), many are calling for a recount. Among a number of discontents, the main accusation is that of the government of tampering with votes, but most of these accusations are nearly impossible to prove. There are also accusations of bringing busloads of Ukrainians with recently-obtained Hungarian citizenships across the border to vote, along with accusations of bribery and simply throwing away opposition ballots. However, Hungarian independent news sources have reported that, at least statistically, it seems there has not been any systematic vote-tampering.
Even so, upwards of one hundred-thousand people took to the streets of Budapest the weekend after the vote in order to protest against Orbáns victory and the elections. Distinctively, Saturday’s protest saw a coming-together of both left-wing supporters and right-wing Jobbik supporters – united by their common enemy.
Immediately post-election, Fidesz did not wait long to begin enacting their promises. Hours after the election results were revealed they announced the new ‘Stop Soros’ Bill, which is intended to crack down on NGOs, think tanks, and the intelligentsia in Hungary. The Bill is named after Hungarian-American philanthropist and billionaire George Soros who after surviving the Holocaust in Hungary, emigrated to England in 1947 and eventually to the United States. Orbán’s lashing out came after Soros made some comments about helping refugees during the 2015 migrant crisis; George Soros has been a scapegoat for the Hungarian government ever since.
Under the guise of seeking out those who wish to help migrants and “mercenaries of Soros,” this is clearly a tactic to threaten opposition organisations and academics; it is the latest in a systematic erosion of free-thought in Hungary. Prior to the elections Fidesz had announced that they had created a list of 2000 ‘Soros agents’, of which 200 were published in Figyelő magazine on 12th April. On the list were, among others, individuals working for the Soros-founded Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, the Hungarian Helsinki committee, Amnesty International, Transparency International, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Romaversitas program, and an organisation helping orphaned migrant children. Also on the list were at least two deceased individuals: the former rector of CEU Yehuda Elkana, and Ernest Gellner.
The mood among the opposition has been mixed. Some are waiting to see what comes. Some are in complete disbelief. Others try to stay optimistic. Fidesz has managed to fulfill Orbán’s goal of eliminating the Left, and Hungary is now treading awfully close to, once again, becoming a single-party state. It’s difficult to say what the future holds for Hungary, but with the systematic targeting of NGOs and intelligentsia, Soviet-style fear tactics, the continued propaganda campaign, and loyalty of Hungary’s right-wing voters, the future of the country looks grimly tied to Orbán for some time to come.
Ms Katherine Kondor is a Doctoral Fellow at CARR, and a specialist on the Hungarian radical right. See her profile at:
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