Vatican News
A supporter of the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary reacts while watching election results A supporter of the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary reacts while watching election results  (AFP or licensors)

Hungary's anti-immigration Prime Minister wins election

Hungary's opposition is in turmoil and activists fear a crackdown after Hungary's increasingly authoritarian Prime minister Viktor Orbán won re-election for a third consecutive term, backed by an absolute majority. Initial results of Sunday's parliamentary elections show his nationalist right-wing Fidesz party and its Christian Democratic ally receiving two-thirds of seats in Parliament, though there were allegations of irregularities.

By Stefan J. Bos

"We won," said the 54-year-old Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. He projects himself as a savior of Hungary’s Christian culture against Muslim immigration into Europe. That resonated with cheering supporters near the Danube river. Orbán tells them that Hungary has won a great victory and that there is a big battle behind them giving him and his supporters in his words "a chance to defend Hungary.”

But 64-year-old cattle breeder engineer Sándor, who didn't want to publish his last name, suggested that the government should look into more issues than just immigration. "At first [the government should look at] the situation of the healthcare and hospitals, as well as education, starting with the 6-year olds to university, "he told Vatican News.

And there should be a "better division of the money," he added in an apparent reference to reports of government misspending and corruption with national and European Union funds.

But for now, Orbán has other priorities. He rallies his troops from atop a white horse before they advance in their thousands to slaughter an army of orcs. They are comprised of his political opposition and led by the billionaire George Soros
who support groups helping migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty.

Lord of Rings

The video posted by pro-Orbán is a crudely altered Lord of the Rings scene. But the military imagery and apparent demonization of the opposition reflects his publicly expressed pledge to crack down on those suspected of working against Hungary's interests, including activists and media, through legislation and other measures.

He earlier said that Hungarians should remain Hungarian, that their color should not be mixed, and suggested that the settlement of Hungarian
Roma, or Gypsies, underscored the dangers of immigration.

That prompted an angry reaction from Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"Xenophobes and racists in Europe are casting off any sense of embarrassment – like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán who...said: ‘we do not want our color… to be mixed in with others'”. Do they not know what happens to minorities in societies where leaders seek ethnic, national or racial purity?”, the UN official said.

With a two-thirds majority in the 199-seat Parliament, Orban can further change constitutional laws.

He faces little opposition from the opposition with the Nationalist Jobbik a distant second with just 26 seats followed by the Socialists with 20 lawmakers, and other smaller leftist parties.

Opposition leaders resign

Leaders of the main opposition parties already resigned overnight citing the poor results. His victory came despite allegations of massive government corruption with billions of euros received from the European Union.

But the EU has struggled to respond as in its view Orban’s increasingly autocratic government has used landslide victories in 2010 and 2014 to erode democratic checks and balances.

International observers were expected to also look into reports of voting irregularities, including disabled and older adults not being able to vote in some areas, double voting and other forms of intimidation.

Monitors of Europe's security organization OSCE said were characterized by a pervasive overlap between state and ruling party resources, "undermining contestants' ability to compete on an equal basis."

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said voters had a wide range of political options, "but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing constricted the space for genuine political debate." That hindered voters’ ability to make "a fully informed choice", the group said.

Lack of information

Access to information as well as the freedoms of the media and association have been restricted, including by recent legal changes, according to the ODIHR.

“While voters were presented with clear options in these elections, the shrinking of space for genuine debate hindered their ability to make a fully informed choice,” said Douglas Wake, head of the ODIHR limited election observation mission.

“Public funding measures and limits on spending, for example, are in place to secure equal opportunities, but the government’s excessive spending on ads that amplified the ruling coalition’s campaign message undermined contestants’ ability to compete on an equal basis,” he stressed.

Independent researchers said that soon after election results were announced, the most popular word searched by Hungarians on the internet was...emigrate.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report
09 April 2018, 17:54