To understand the current situation in Hungary, one needs to look back on what came before and examine the historical background of post-communist Hungary. The country’s shift from a Soviet satellite to a Western-oriented liberal democracy was – as elsewhere in the region – brutal, even more so taking into account the EU’s demands to speed up the accession process. In order for Hungary to join the club of free-market economies and liberal democracies, Hungary had to mimic the Western European model. This transitional period was, in effect, far from miraculous, and many parts of the population were left behind.
At first, Hungarians automatically rejected left-leaning parties by association with the communist party that had ruled the country from 1946 to 1989. During the 1990 parliamentary elections, the MSZP (Magyar Szocialista Párt) socialist party gathered only 11% of the votes. The first post-communist, democratically elected government of Hungary was thus ruled by a coalition of right-wing, Christian-democratic movements.
Orban-led governments have largely ignored the state and situation of the marginalized fringes of society. In late 2018, the government passed a law criminalizing homelessness, now inscribed to the Constitution. The fate and treatment of Hungary’s Roma highly-marginalized population is even worse, and their situation has hardly changed an inch over the past ten years – as exemplified by the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling condemning Hungary for its failure to protect its Roma minority in the Király case.
Widespread corruption and cronyism remains another significant problem for Hungary. Since 2015, corruption has steadily increased under the Orban governments, with Hungary now ranked second to last in the European Union, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Last but not least, it’s impossible to write about Orban’s rule without mentioning the democratic backsliding and moves to undermine the rule of law – exemplified by the fact that Hungary went from being ranked as a “free” to “semi-free” democracy, according to Freedom House. Press freedom has been one of the main victims of the Orban era. orb
Please come to read how the May 2010 legislative elections were easily won by Fidesz and its Christian-democratic ally, KDNP, in an unprecedented victory with the conservative coalition gathering 54% of the votes and two-thirds of the Parliament’s seats, giving Viktor Orbán’s government massive leeway to implement its policies and left a deep imprint on the Hungarian political landscape – with particularly harsh consequences for opposition parties.