Commentary

Why the 2/3 didn’t matter

Even The Economist felt compelled to report that a byelection in October could technically end Orbán’s damaging parliamentary supermajority.

The key word is technically.

“This would be above all a symbolic victory,” says Peter Marki-Zay, a prominent critic of Mr Orban. “The result will determine the political mood of the next 18 months,” wrote The Economist.

Márki-Zay was correct. The mood is all it could influence. As of the effective practicing of power, the parliament is no longer relevant for a number of reasons:

  1. Between 2015-2018 Orbán did not have his precious 2/3. Did anyone notice? One of the reasons is that once Orbán pushed through his new basic law (5x) and the changes he needed to solidify his power
  2. He can always obtain another vote. One of the ethnic MPs (what a terrifying concept) was earmarked to deliver the missing votes. And even in the absence of him, there is always someone who can bribed or blackmailed, there is always an “opposition” MP who is ready to come out as Orbánist when he is more useful that way than he was pretending to be opposition. They exist.
  3. All branches of power (and then some) have been occupied by Orbánist loyalists. These men are not just bound by their love of Orbán, not even by the love of the money they are allowed to amass make as a part of his regime. That would be easily overcome when another power appeared on the block – they would suck up to the new winner in a heartbeat. But they are also bound by kompromat. Any smart mafia leader knows that love is a flimsy thing to build loyalism upon. If you want soldiers who simply can not leave you, you must have something on them.

This naturally begs the question why breaking down the 2/3 in an election (unequal, unfair and stolen as it may be) would be such a big deal in 2020.

And it is a good question. Those loyalists on the top of courts, the central bank, the prosecution, the constitutional court, the state audit office, the law enforcement, the military, the tax authority, and the media authority would not cease to work for Orbán and make the job of a non-Orbánist government a living hell. Not to mention that all the money in this country is now in their hands, in their personal pockets, so Orbán’s old grievance that strong economic powers could resist him is gone.

Arguably, a non-Orbánist could not get anything done, not least because Orbán made an ever growing number of topics a matter of 2/3 majority voting in parliament. This by itself can paralyze a simple majority government.

Too much power on any side, without an opposition is destructive, people. Don’t vote too hard in any direction or you’ll end up like us. Because from now on, with these illiberal strongmen setting negative precedent in shamelessness and lack of inhibitions, any party that gains an overmajority would be tempted to follow their example in any country.

And that’s why trying to break the 2/3 is still important. For mood. Márki-Zay was right on that one. Elections may be a theatre, majority voting may be no way to make decisions – and yet, every other option is worse. Orbán made sure of that.

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