March 31, 2016 Print

Photo credit: Derzsi Elekes Andor (license CC BY-SA 3.0)

Authoritarian political movements are gaining influence in Hungary, including some who openly praise the Nazi regime of World War II — and even within the governing Hungarian party Fidesz, which includes “a group of thugs” that recently occupied the Hungarian National Election Office to block a referendum by their political opposition. The future of Hungary’s democracy is at stake, argue Free Market Foundation Director Máté Hajba and Young Voices Editor Patrick Hannaford in a recent commentary for CapX.

“It’s well known that Fidesz opposes western style democracy, defined by rule of law, checks and balances, and civil rights,” Hajba and Hannaford write. “In 2014, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán openly declared his plan to turn Hungary into an ‘illiberal democracy’, based on Russia, Turkey, and China – a statement that lead Senator John McCain to describe Prime Minister Orbán as a ‘neo-fascist dictator’.

“Orbán and Fidesz have been strenuously implementing this plan since taking office in 2010. They have tampered with election laws, tailoring the process and gerrymandering constituencies to retain their two-thirds majority in 2014. They have centralized power throughout society, creating new government bureaucracies and nationalizing private industries. Worst of all, they have curtailed the powers of the constitutional court, so that nothing can challenge the government’s frenzy.”

Although Fidesz remains popular with Hungarians, its policies are increasingly meeting with resistance, with extensive protests over a centralized national education plan, the crumbling health care system, Internet taxes, and government corruption.

“Hungary needs a viable opposition that can appeal to all supporters of liberal-democracy,” Hajba and Hannaford conclude. “Sensible parties of both left and right must put aside their differences and unite to oppose the creeping authoritarianism of Fidesz, and the outright fascists of the far-right.”