Following the unexpected victories for the “opposition” in major cities at the 2019 local elections, some politicians from both sides have talked about the possibility of Orbán losing the 2022 general election. They are fooling themselves and their voters.
The victories in major cities followed after an unprecedented coordination and cooperation between “opposition” parties ranging from the far right Jobbik to liberal left (favorite bogeyman of the right and former PM) Ferenc Gyurcsány and his Democratic Coalition. Among the major prizes were Budapest, with surprise defeats for Fidesz even in conservative districts.
The popular belief among many non-Fidesz politicians and intellectuals is that the formula for defeating Orbán in the next general election has been found. A unified opposition has a serious chance of beating Fidesz in their own custom-tailored election system.
Unfortunately, this is the same fallacy which has led to Orbán’s “victories” in the 2014 and 2018 “elections”. The election system is not only tailored to Orbán’s goals- If needed, his men will even break the existing rules.
Take the incident when a socialist MP was physically hindered in registering his referendum question at the National Election Office. Several people involved were linked to Fidesz, but none were even indicted following this obviously unlawful act. The current system is making it more difficult for voters living abroad suspected to be anti-Orbán to cast their votes than presumed Orbán supporters among dual citizens in neighboring countries. As consequence – although less than half of voters supported Orbán – he still got his two-thirds supermajority in Parliament. A vote cast against Orbán is worth less than one for him, people who are not Orbán supporters are thus treated as second-class citizens.
The shameless voter suppression and unlawful acts did not stop the “opposition parties” from encouraging their voters to participate. The same parties who claimed that Hungary has basically become a dictatorship, kept telling the voters that the dictator could be removed through elections created and supervised by him and his vassals.
Here lies the root of the problem – the non-Orbán parties participating in these sham elections have become part of Orbán’s system. Their collaboration has legitimized an authoritarian system and is misleading many voters and the outside world that there is still real competition for the main political power. (That’s why the word opposition is written in quotation marks, when it’s applied to parties not named Fidesz in Orbán’s system.)
Taking control of a few cities which can be bankrupted by Orbán by cutting off funds will not threaten his power.
Orbán and his party is still the most popular and biggest force in Hungarian politics. His vision for Hungary as a Christian white mono-ethnic sovereign illiberal state attracts many, even abroad. This should’t be a surprise, even the nastiest forms of communism had it’s fans in the West. And like modern communism, Orbánism is also based on lies. But Orbán still offers something many can relate to, while the “opposition” has no coherent vision on its own, and merely reacts to whatever Orbán’s propaganda machine produces any given day.
The “opposition” parties want to convince voters that the solution to all problems is getting rid of Orbán. They offer no vision, only their hatred of Orbán. They have yet to explain what they plan to do with the education and healthcare system, the biggest worries of most Hungarians (when they are not reminded of the migrants by the regime).
“Opposition” parties claim (correctly) that Orbán’s system must end – but will a simple change of government suffice? If the regime is willing to send thugs in order to stop a referendum, just imagine what it will do when it believes its survival is at stake.
The “opposition” wants the electorate to believe that forces ranging from ex-fascists to liberals, greens and ex-communists can provide a stable and unified government. If they want to be taken seriously maybe they should unite in their demand for a truly free and fair election system. This will not be just fairer to all voters; it will make it easier for future parties to form a government based on proportional representation and popular support. The current system favors Orbán’s oligarchy and its useful idiots in the “opposition”, providing them with well paid jobs and little or no responsibility.
In order for this to change the majority of Hungarian society has to recognize the Orbán regime as the historical cul de sac it really is. The sad truth is that this is not going to happen any time soon. The relative decline of Hungary compared to neighboring countries is less visible, especially given the recent economic growth. Too many remember the Gyurcsány-era of incompetent governance and the following financial crisis.
Hungarian history teaches us that regime changes were caused by external factors, mainly a war or a financial crisis. As long as the European Union is willing to finance this corrupt regime, and a majority of voters believe that they are better off with a devil they know, Orbán’s position is safe for now. Unless there is a black swan event, do not expect anything to change in 2022.
Featured image: Index.hu