Commentary

Orbán could have lost his supermajority without the enabling act

A think tank quietly added some important detail to explain what is happening and why.

Few remember but Orbán has already lost his supermajority once, when a byelection resulted in a surprise result and his MP that left for Brussels had been replaced by an independent MP in a strongly pro-Orbán district in 2015, just a year after Orbán’s 2nd election win.

Orbán had to spend 2015-18 one MP short of a voting machine and that delayed his agenda. He didn’t want to let it happen again, that much was obvious. He memorably flipped out at courts and swore to take his revenge at judges when they reduced his 2+ MP extra majority on top of the 2/3 to just one MP in 2018.

He knows that his victory is not so secure in a district when it becomes the focus of national attention, and it always happens at a byelection. It is also a great opportunity for the opposition to focus what little they have – and they come under pressure to put aside their petty squabbling if they ever mean to end Orbán’s system.

Corona may have felled an Orbánist MP, but a byelection would have come even sooner as a corrupt Fidesz MP was about to go to jail and his seat going up for election.

As Political Capital, a think tank, pointed out, an MP was about to lose his immunity and he was from a district where the united opposition could have won, even according to last year’s numbers.

The troubles of this Fidesz MP was the result of a tiny little corruption purge that Orbén launched before October 2019, most likely as a message for his followers not to feel too secure. It was put into motion long before the October election defeat, and it didn’t look like such a great idea after that. But it proceeded nonetheless and it was about to give an opening to the opposition. That could not be allowed.

With the enabling act, both the parliamentary supermajority and the threat of a byelection became moot.

But there was another issue that has threatened Fidesz’ popularity, long before the pandemic, and that could not be allowed.

Healthcare has been a losing subject for Orbán long before covid-19

A third thing to keep in mind is that the shocking state of healthcare, the unspeakable deterioration of both equipment and morale, the willful starvation of the sector and the frightening health results have been a neuralgic issue in Hungary long before covid-19. Fidesz’ communication machinery has avoided the topic like the plague and even when Orbán was forced to say something about it, his words always reeked of disdain for the plebs and a deep reluctance to spend any of our tax money back on us.

Covid-19 could have put Orbán in the spot in healthcare policy. Indeed, the crackdown on healthcare-related communication has been the focal point of his corona-efforts. Hospitals are not allowed to comment or release information, media is threatened with jail for publishing inconvenient things. If the government spent as much effort on fighting the virus as it did cracking down on information, we would be in much better shape now. But that stands for almost every other country.

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