We, Hungarians, have weird problems. Like trying to figure out which opposition parties are faking it.
The relationship between an autocrat and his colonial vassals in satellite states may be abusive – but there is an element of mentorship in it. Just as Slovenia’s Jansa and Poland’s Kaczyński are obviously emulating Orbán – Orbán is obviously emulating his own feudalist overlord, Putin.
Putin has long cultivated the method of keeping a court opposition – a bunch of men who pretend to be in opposition, but somehow never amount to any real political counterbalance. It serves multiple purposes. It allows some voters to let out steam, others to believe that this is all an opposition can accomplish so better submit to Putin. They soak up a few percentages of opposition votes, and give corrupt foreign intellectuals and unpaid useful idiots an excuse to sell the story that the autocracy is actually somehow still an democracy – look, there is even a parliamentary opposition. Putin could totally put some novichok into their Sputnik – and yet he lets them live because he is such a generous democrat.
The court opposition, meanwhile, doesn’t serve any purpose that is not the autocrat’s. Take the Hungarian incarnation, for instance. They shake their fists, they say big words, they even burn books to look more nazi than Orbán himself every time Orbán needs to play the moderate in Brussels, who single-handedly keeps the avalanche of nazis at bay, and can only do so by saying nazi things himself. This may sound stupid, but this line or argument has actually worked for Orbán for almost a decade.
So when we need to figure out which nominally opposition party is the Orbánist Easter egg, we need to practice some serious Kremlinology here. Observe.
1) A party is only faking to be in opposition when its policies just happen to illustrate what Orbán accuses the opposition of: opposing vaccination (the real opposition does not), endorsing immigration (the helpfully named party “Liberals” did that when Orbán was in the first stages of inciting hatred against darks-skinned foreigners and called a fake referendum), or when a party acts more nazi than Orbán himself (see above).
2) A party is only faking to be in opposition when its members are allowed to appear on public media – and without some savage smear added by the reporter. And when I say appear – I mean appearing at all.
3) And a party is definitely only faking to be in opposition when they come out of the woodwork and bravely vote with Orbán to pull off the biggest public money heist since the end of communism when the old comrades used their political influence to rob the state blind.
The latter has happened yesterday, when the members of Our Homeland – the turbo nationalist faux-party that is supposedly more to the right wing than the much-feared Jobbik, more right than Orbán himself – voted with Orbán in parliament to make up for the missing Fidesz MPs and pull off the greatest public money loot in Hungarian history.
Now they can go back shaking their little fists and accusing Orbán of being a dictator. Their job is done for now.