hungary

  • Source: "Orban's design"  

    From the article: "After eight years in power, and in his third stint as prime minister (he also governed from 1998 to 2002), Mr Orban seems a long way from his youthful dissident past. Critics accuse him of presiding over a centralisation of political and economic power unparalleled since the collapse of communism. Civic groups and NGOs say they are under siege, harassed by the authorities, subjected to mysterious dirty tricks and attacked by government politicians and loyalist media. State television is little more than a propaganda arm of Fidesz. Party allies have been placed in charge of independent institutions.

    The funds Hungary gets from the European Union, say opposition politicians, are often channelled to Mr Orban’s cronies, including his son-in-law and the mayor of his home village, nurturing a new class of oligarchs. (They deny it.) The health-care and education systems are in decline, especially outside the capital. Hungary has the fifth-lowest life expectancy in the EU, at 76.2 years—lower than Albania’s 78.5. Education has been centralised with an old-fashioned syllabus that emphasises rote-learning over analytical skills. International test results show declines in science, mathematics and reading.

    A stream of news stories, all furiously contested, allege high-level corruption in government circles. Mr Soros, now Mr Orban’s bitterest enemy, has accused his former beneficiary of running a “mafia state”. Mr Orban is “on an illiberal train and he cannot stop it”, says Viktor Szigetvari, of the progressive Together party. Another Fidesz victory, he says, will mean more attacks on civil liberties, the judiciary, the opposition and civic organisations.

    Yet for many voters, none of this seems to matter. Mr Orban and Fidesz have focused on a single message: the need to stop migration and defend Hungary from outsiders such as Mr Soros, the UN, NGOs and the European Commission. The government accuses Mr Soros and his allies of planning to flood Hungary with Muslim migrants. (In 2015 he called for the EU to accept 1m asylum seekers a year; he later lowered the figure to 300,000.) For Mr Orban, this has been a political godsend. Speaking on March 15th, a holiday that commemorates the 1848 revolution, Mr Orban told an adoring crowd that Christian Europe and Hungary were waging a “civilisational struggle” against a wave of mass migration, organised by a network of activists, troublemakers and “NGOs paid by international speculators”.

    Even if such a network existed, it would be hard-pressed to flood Hungary with migrants. The fortified fence on Hungary’s southern border has proved effective, and asylum claims have been reduced to a slow trickle. Yet Mr Orban’s bombast resonates with collective memory. The revolution of 1848 and the 1956 anti-communist uprising (crushed, respectively, by the Habsburgs and the Soviets) are central to Hungarians’ view of their own history, leaving them suspicious of foreign interference. The focus on migration is really about national security and independence, and who decides the fate of Hungary, says Agoston Samuel Mraz, of the Nezopont Institute, a think-tank close to the government. “This motivates not only Fidesz voters but also between a third and a half of opposition voters.”

    This is the Trump blueprint - fire up the tradition-bound, authoritarian base with the boogeyman of immigration, then once in control of the government, loot it for the benefit of you and your cronies.

  • Sources: "What to do with Hungary" "Magyars en marche!"  

    Overview of Orban's Hungary - he has put oligarch cronies in charge of major media outlets. He has rewritten the Hungarian Constitution and eliminated many checks ad balances. He has rigged the system (gerrymandering?) in favor of his Fidesz so that it controls two-thirds of the legislature while commanding less than half the vote. From the article: "Today Mr Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends in Europe. His country is increasingly dominated by one party, his own. Elections may be free, but they are not fair. Mr Orban has rewritten the constitution, dismantled checks and balances (“a US invention” unsuited to Europe, he says), muzzled the press and empowered oligarchs. Refugees, who supposedly threaten Hungary’s Christian identity, are beaten by police and mauled by police dogs. Debates over values, Mr Orban thinks, “unnecessarily generate social problems”. He wants to fashion an “illiberal state” modelled on China, Russia and Turkey."

    The EU has tools - economic ones - to help restrain the worst of Orban's illiberal excesses. Hungary gets $6.7 billion a year in EU aid and 95% of all publicly finance infrastructure) projects are co-financed by the EU. Further, 75% of all Hungarians want to stay in the EU. Note that Russia just loaned Orban $11.2 billion to expand a nuclear power plant

    And a new opposition party, Momentum, is modeling itself after France's En Marche and rejecting left-right labels and rejecting establishment politicians as out-of-date ad corrupt. The leader of Momentum is Andras Fekete-Gyor.  Momentum rejects the idea of allying with Hungary's major opposition party, the Socialists.