Orban: Europe’s New Strongman, by Paul Lendvai

Startbeitrag von Moderator. am 19.10.2017 11:34

Orban: Europe’s New Strongman, by Paul Lendvai

No EU national leader reigns supreme in the way that Viktor Orban is lord and master of Hungary. Having tasted power as prime minister from 1998 to 2002, he reclaimed office in 2010 after a landslide election victory. Over the past seven years, he has cocked a snook at the EU and systematically dismantled the checks and balances built into Hungary’s political system after the end of communism in 1989.

It is scarcely imaginable that Mr Orban, 54, will lose next year’s parliamentary elections. The opposition is divided and demoralised. In any case, Mr Orban amended the electoral law in 2012 in a manner blatantly favourable to his ruling Fidesz party. This secured Fidesz an overwhelming majority of seats in the 2014 elections and will surely produce much the same outcome in 2018.

As Paul Lendvai observes in Orban: Europe’s New Strongman, his thoughtful, entertaining biography, Hungarian political scientists wrestle over how to define Mr Orban’s proudly illiberal regime.

One brands it a “fascistoid mutation”. Another calls it a “neo-collectivist, neo-communist experiment”. Such labels seem exaggerated or wide of the mark.

More accurate, arguably, are the words of two men with experience of government in Budapest. Balint Magyar, a former education minister, known for having coined the term “Hungarian mafia state”, says that Mr Orban’s regime is “the privatised form of a parasite state, an economic undertaking run by the family of the Godfather exploiting the political and public instruments of power”.

Andras Bozoki, a former culture minister, says Mr Orban presides over a “hybrid regime [in which] the features of an authoritarian system are stronger than those of a democracy”.

If this seems too mild a description, it nonetheless captures an important point, identified also by Jan-Werner Müller, a Princeton University professor. Unlike in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Mr Orban’s opponents are not bumped off. Critics hold demonstrations in Budapest. They occupy niches in the media. However, real power, from 2010 on, has seemed unlikely to change hands.

Lendvai, an 88-year-old Hungarian-born author and journalist, left his native land for Austria after the 1956 anticommunist uprising. In recent years he has been a persistent thorn in Mr Orban’s side and a target for smear campaigns in the Fidesz media. In his view, Mr Orban “has contributed more than any other Hungarian politician since 1989 to the disastrous political, moral, economic and cultural polarisation of Hungarian society”.

The value of Lendvai’s book lies in.........



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