The model of the so-called illiberal democracy has been given much attention in recent years and has found its main incarnation in Fidesz-led Hungary. Indeed, this right-wing administration is being dubious regarding its permanence in the European Union and is inflaming the hearts of its citizens on issues related to immigration and media. The result of such an authoritarian turn is that Hungarian democracy may be at risk, given the years-long repression of civil society actors. After the introduction of Jakub Klepal, the Executive Director of the Forum 2000, the Director of the Political Capital Institute in Budapest Péter Krekó delivered a general overview on what is going on in Hungary and the policies of the government lead by Viktor Orbán. “Rule of law and democratic institutions are in decay in Hungary,” the guest said. It is a hybrid regime: half a democracy and half autocracy.
However, the country had begun a process of democratic regression several years ago, reaching the peak in this sense with Orbán’s liberticidal laws, and his weaponization of the Covid-19 crisis. Corruption, Krekó explained, “has reached unprecedented levels in Hungary. More than forty percent of public funds during the pandemic went to pro-Orbán actors.” The government and the attached corrupt system are based on the total denial of what has been happening in Hungary for years: a repressive policy towards free press and migrants. “Hungary is promoting aggressive rhetoric against the West and the European Union than ever before. Budapest is closer to Belarus than any other European State.” According to Orbán, Krekó said, the EU wants to undermine the traditional European values, which the Hungarian government makes itself the guardian of.
The anti-EU position of the Orbán government encompasses a firm aversion against multilateral institutions, misogyny, and antimigration policies. Krekó seemed to be quite relieved by the fact that now, it would seem, Orbán has lost many allies worldwide: from Washington to Tel-Aviv to Prague. On the other hand, closer ties have been created with Italy, Slovenia, and Poland’s far right-wing parties. Krekó added, “Orbán is now in the political limbo in the European politics since he has been expelled from EEP”. This might have an impact on the April 2022 presidential elections. Viktor Orbán continues to exercise appeal. The inventor of the illiberal democracy still is a polar star for populist movements worldwide. What is concerning, from point of view of the West, is that the Magyar leader has close political, economic, and commercial ties with authoritarian Russia and China.
In Hungary, democracy, institutions, and rule of law are seriously under attack as the PM makes himself the sole guarantor of fierce Hungarian traditionalism, vis-à-vis the “dangers” posed by migrants, the LGBT community, and other minorities. “Orbán uses everything bad coming from Brussels and creates an alternative reality,” Krekó affirmed. “He is trying to destroy the image of Europe and the EU.” But while Orbán wants to weaken the EU’s image, he does not want to give up the political and economic advantages provided by the membership. “He wants to be part of an EU that has only benefits.” The challenges of the opposition will be then to firmly tackle the anti-European, anti-liberal, and anti-multilateral Fidesz-led administration’s rhetoric and its leader in next year’s elections.
(Published on amedeogasparini.com)