Hungary goes to votes in a legislative turned into a plebiscite for Orbán
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The 8.3 million Hungarian voters are asked to choose the 199 members of Parliament, in an election in which the opposition rallied around Péter Márki-Zay to try to dethrone the prime minister, who has been in power for 12 years. War in Ukraine marked the campaign.

Viktor Orbán is not just the “enfant terrible” of European Union (EU) politics; he became an international symbol of the set of ideas that he himself baptized as “illiberal democracy”. It is difficult to precisely define this semantic contradiction. In practice, what it has been, since Orbán’s party, Fidesz, came to power in 2003, is a muscular “executive”, which bypasses the “judicial” and holds the “legislative” on a leash, at the same time that muzzles the media and buys favors in plain sight.

Orbán, idolized abroad by all movements and people who like “traditional values” more than social modernities, has kept the European Union’s summit under permanent tension, by stepping on several red lines of what is the general concept of parliamentary democracy. and freedom of expression. In addition to not respecting common political principles, it still declares it openly – hence the idolatry of conservatives, autocratics and reactionaries such as the French Marine Le Pen, the American Steve Bannon, the Italian Matteo Salvini and the Englishman Nigel Farage, united against the danger of the dissolution of the fragile European identity, still in its teens, threatened by the massive immigration of Muslim “barbarians”. Orbán’s Hungary has been (along with Poland) the most avowedly anti-immigrant country, whether political or economic refugees.

Until the invasion of Ukraine, Orbán also offered unabashed and outrageous support for Putin; like Trump, he valued the heavy hand of the Moscow dictator. Only now, that Putin has gone too far, has he stopped praising him, starting to accept refugees – ideally Caucasians and Christians, of course.

In Hungary, Orbán is not so admired. The numerous parties of the national political spectrum complain, and rightly, about the seizure of power by Fidesz, who uses the whip and the carrot, as he sees fit. He pursues the disaffected and favors the vassals with all impudence. The country has watched its democratic institutions wither and be systematically silenced.

Faced with the improbability of any one of these competing parties defeating Fidesz, in increasingly suspicious elections – although officially free, but in practice restricted in various ways – they finally decided to join them all, just like our Democratic Opposition in the times of Estado Novo. It is an unnatural combination, which includes the liberal socialists of the Democratic Coalition, the conservatives of Jobbik, the greens of the LMP and Dialogue, the pro-European socialists of the MSZP, and the centrists of Momentum. After complicated talks, they reached a common platform of understanding, perhaps inoperative, and a single candidate for prime minister, the independent Péter Márki-Zay.

The 199 deputies of parliament are chosen by two methods: 106 by the single name system (as in the United Kingdom) and 96 by the proportional Hondt system (as in Portugal). The minimum for a party to elect deputies is to obtain 5% of the national total, 10% for two-party coalitions, and 15% for coalitions of three. In addition to this difficult tangle to break down, one must also count on the quotas allocated to the various ethnic minorities of Armenian, Croatian, German, Greek, Polish, “Romani”, Romanian, Carpathian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian and Ukrainian origin.

Currently, that is, until these elections on Sunday, 3 April, there are six parties and coalitions represented in parliament, and Fidesz does not even have an absolute majority: 49.27% of the votes. However, with Orbán’s methods, he always manages to get one of the minority parties to inject him with the necessary majority for feats such as appointing his Supreme Court advisers or imposing a thinly veiled censorship of the media.

It is this situation that the new platform “United for Hungary” (which, in fact, should rather be called “United against Orbán”) aims to overturn.

Source: with agencies

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