Hungary’s Unappetizing Election

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won re-election on Sunday in a vote widely criticized as unfair. Bershidsky argues Hungary may be the EU’s only dictatorship:

Orban has a lot in common with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has pushed through constitutional changes outlawing gay marriage and proclaiming Christianity’s special role as a cornerstone of Hungarian statehood. He fans the flames of Hungarian nationalism, issuing Hungarian passports to ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries and, in a recent speech, calling Serbian and Romanian towns by their Hungarian names. …

His approach to elections flies in the face of European ideals of fairness. Before Sunday’s election, the parliament, dominated by his Fidesz party, gerrymandered the constituencies to make sure its biggest rival, the Social Democrats, could not win. Fidesz also effectively controlled outdoor advertising, the only channel for campaign ads after the constitutional amendments.

But Orbán’s victory isn’t the worst news, Kirchick explains:

[T]he real news out of Hungary is the continued rise of Jobbik, a neo-fascist movement that gained 21 percent at the polls. By means of comparison, consider that Fidesz earned 630,000 fewer votes this election than it did four years ago, while Jobbik picked up 130,000.

The party, which rails against “Gypsy crime” and promotes Jewish conspiracy theories, shocked observers four years ago when it entered parliament for the first time with 16 percent of the national tally. Due to infighting amongst the country’s left and liberal opposition, which unified solely for the purpose of the election and will now have to divide its 38 seats among five separate parties, Jobbik is now likely to be the second largest parliamentary bloc, even though Hungary’s voters are in a much less revolutionary mood now than they were four years ago.

Matthew Feeney is dismayed:

Last year, Jobbik supported the building of a statue of Miklós Horthy, the Hungarian wartime leader and Hitler ally who passed a range of anti-Semitic laws and allowed hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews to be sent to Auschwitz. Protesters, some of whom wore yellow stars, clashed with supporters of the statue when it was presented.

… It is a sad reality that over 60 percent of Hungarians who voted in yesterday’s election backed either a revolting antisemitic party or a party led by a man who has overseen some very worrying erosions of personal liberties.