The Hungarian elections: A new beginning or a continuation of the status quo?

A new beginning or a continuation of the status quo?

Fidesz, the ruling party in Hungary, can be seen as anti-democratic. This has been academically discussed in many excellent papers and articles, such as Freedom House reports on Hungary during Fidesz’s tenure.

The rise of the populist right-wing in Hungary can be mainly attributed to the massive failure of the 2002-2010 government. Furthermore, internal factors, such as the disorganization of the opposition, have also played a minor role. These factors, propaganda, economic stability, and changing the constitution have provided a perfect environment for Fidesz to continue to secure a supermajority in parliament.

On April 3rd, 2022, Hungary will be holding its general elections. This general election will be decisive in the future of Hungary, as it will determine if Hungary continues its path of democratic backsliding or follow the western model of democracy.

What makes this election detrimental is the unity of polar opposites whose only common ground is the hatred of Orban, under the big-tent alliance of ‘United for Hungary.’ This coalition includes parties and movements from the far right, such as the Jobbik party, and parties from the left, such as MSZP.

Additionally, United for Hungary is doing rather well in the polls; according to Politico, United for Hungary is getting 44 points, while Fidesz is getting around 49 points. However, even if Fidesz does not secure a majority vote, it can still form a government due to the constitutional amendments and changes introduced by Orban and his government from 2010 up until today.
These constitutional amendments and changes can prove themselves as treacherous waters where the opposition has to navigate itself. Due to Fidesz’s complete control during the recent decade, these constitutional amendments made the democratic system in Hungary a game that Fidesz could beat.

Fidesz also mastered the arts of propaganda and populism. During the beginning Russo-Ukrainian war, Orban took a pro-Ukrainian stance. After a week, Orban and Fidesz settled on relatively pro-Russian rhetoric, citing cheap energy and peace as reasons to continue importing Russian gas and not siding with the rest of the European Union in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This feat of populism demonstrates how the ‘Orbanian’ government is hoping to deal with this issue; ‘Breaking the model of the liberal west to achieve the greater good of Hungary’ is a populist slogan with a rally around the flag effect, which is the most suitable scenario Fidesz can hope for two weeks before a general election.

Thus, in the upcoming Hungarian elections, I believe that Fidesz will win, but it will not be a landslide victory for the first time in a decade. The geopolitical state of Eastern Europe and the efficiency of the Fidesz Propaganda machine will prove that under the status quo, Orban is not to be unseated. The opposition will suffer significantly if a new Fidesz government is to pass more laws and amendments, which would accelerate the democratic backsliding process Hungary is currently facing.

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