Feature

Hungary: On our way back to dictatorship

We’ve long suspected that Prime Minister Viktor Orban wanted to be a dictator.

Laszlo KovacsNepszavaWe’ve long suspected that Prime Minister Viktor Orban wanted to be a dictator, said Laszlo Kovacs. Last week, he finally said it out loud. In a speech to a business group, Orban said Hungary might need “a different system,” instead of democracy, because Hungarians are a “semi-Asian people who only understand force.” The reference to our Hun ancestry was “condescending, if not outright offensive,” but it’s the political content of his message that’s most disturbing. Since 2010, when his Fidesz party snagged a two-thirds majority in parliament, Orban has completely redrawn Hungarian politics to resemble a one-party state. He passed a new constitution that severely limits judicial authority to check parliament’s excesses, and mandated retirement for hundreds of judges so he could replace them with his own obedient picks. His government can now even choose which particular judge should hear any case. Orban has gerrymandered election districts and replaced the independent election commission with a partisan one so he can now “easily cement his personal power.” Hungary is looking more and more like it did pre-1989, when the Communist Party controlled everything. The “different system” he has in mind is quite clearly “dictatorship—and it threatens us all.” 

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