Hungarian Elections 1: Liberal Orban to illiberal Orban
The elections that were held last weekend (April 3, 2022) in
Hungary were closely followed by the left and opposition public opinion in our
country, due to the fact that six parties came together to overthrow Orban and
the parallels established between Orban and RTE. Orban's crushing victory saw
mixed reactions in the opposition and in the mainstream media.
Since we could not fit what we will write about the
Hungarian election in a single article due to its similarities with Turkish
politics, we decided to examine this election from several different
In our first article, we will briefly discuss the Hungarian
elections in the historical process. In our second article, we will try to make
a more political analysis. In our last article, we will look at where the left
and the working class in Hungary stand as a political subject in this
In the elections held on the same day, the victory of two
Bonapartes; Vucic and Orban, in the elections held in Serbia and Hungary, shows
that it is not easy to get rid of the conservative regimes in Eastern Europe.
There was no expectation that Vucic would lose in the elections in Serbia.
There seems to be no opposition to Vucic. But the step taken by the opposition
for unity in Hungary for a year fed hopes that it would end the 12-year Orban
rule. That hope was shattered in the elections at the weekend. It is seen that
this defeat of the opposition bloc, in which six dissimilars came together, similar
to the one in Turkey, created a demoralization of the opposition in Turkey, and
that the social media trolls were also mouthing gum.
The alliance formed by Fidesz (Hungarian Citizens' Union)
and KDNP (Christian Democratic People's Party), led by Orban, achieved a
"super majority" (2/3 of the parliament) by taking 134 of the 199
deputies in the parliament with 54 percent of the votes. The alliance of
"Unification for Hungary" (EM: Egységben
Magyarországért), formed by the union of six parties, remained at 34% and
only got 56 seats. Our Country (Mi Hazank), which emerged from the
extreme-rightist Jobbik received 6% of the vote.
Undoubtedly, the "Nation Alliance" in Turkey and
the alliance established against the 12-year-old Orban regime in Hungary are
similar in some respects. Both formations consist of six parties, and we are
really talking about six parties that are unlikely to come together under
normal conditions. The recent vote rates in the 2018 elections and political
tendencies of these parties are as follows:
- Hungarian Socialist Party (social-democratic): 12 percent
- Democratic Coalition (social-democratic): 5.3 percent
- Jobbik (extreme nationalist) 19 percent
- Momentum Movement (liberal): 3 percent
- Hungarian Green Party: 7 percent
- Dialogue Party for Hungary (Green, liberal, centre-left):
did not join – established by those who left the Green Party
The first signs of a merger
of the opposition parties against Orban, who has ruled Hungary for twelve
years, emerged in December 2020. This was motivated by the fact that Marki-Zay,
who was determined as the joint candidate of the alliance in the 2022
elections, won the municipal elections in Hódmezővásárhely, known as the castle
of Fidesz, with a population of 44 thousand, as an independent candidate in the
At first, the name Marki-Zay
was not something that the six parties had much in common with. The election
success of Marki-Zay was not associated with the political charisma of him, but
with the fall of a city that was Fidesz's stronghold. It was evaluated in terms
of creating a belief that Fidesz could be defetaed. On the other hand, Marki-Zay,
who has seven children and is known for his devotion to traditional values, is
a former Fidesz member. He described himself as a right-wing Christian, who
left his party (Fides) since Fdesz, who came to power with a program based on
liberal values have departed from these values.
As a matter of fact, Klara Dobrev, the candidate of the
Democratic Coalition or the liberal-green politician Gergely Karacsony, who was
elected the Mayor of Budapest as the joint candidate of the opposition in the
2019 local elections, were spelled more at the beginning of the alliance
negotiations. This story bears a great resemblance to the election process of
Mansur Yavaş in Ankara. However, with similar motives to the CHP's nomination
of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu in 2014, the alliance agreed with the name Marki-Zay,
who is known for his conservatism and piety, assuming that the right-wing
voters could be attracted.
2019 Türkiye yerel seçimleri ve Çekya’daki Ekim 2021’de beş
partili “Demokratik Cephe” adayının başbakan Andrey Babis’i devirmesi de
birleşik bir muhalefetin başarısı yönünde motive edici gelişmelerdi.
Bu senenin başlarında kamuoyu yoklamaları birleşik muhalefetle
Fidesz-KDNP bloğu arasındaki oy farkının bir iki puana düştüğünü gösteriyordu
ve umut yükseliyordu. Hatta o dönemde Türkiye’deki kamuoyu da Macaristan’ı bu
konjonktürde takibe almıştı. Fakat 4 Nisan seçimlerinde büyük bir hezimetle
The 2019 local elections in Turkey and the five-party
"Democratic Front" candidate's overthrow of prime minister Andrey
Babis in October 2021 in Czechia were also motivating developments for the
success of a united opposition in Hungary.
Earlier this year, opinion polls showed that the gap between
the united opposition and the Fidesz-KDNP bloc had narrowed to a point or two,
and hope was rising. Even the public opinion in Turkey at that time followed
Hungary in this conjuncture. However, it resulted in a great defeat in the
April 4 elections.
Before looking at the reasons for this defeat, it is
necessary to take a look at Orban's political career.
Today, Orban, who has sworn to delete the Hungarian-American
speculator Soros, is known to be associated with the "Open Society
Foundation" founded and funded by Soros in his youth. He even started
working part-time at the Open Society Foundation in 1987 and completed his
studies on civil society at Oxford with a Soros fellowship. Adhering to liberal
values, who became prominent in politics in a short time, this young man took
part in the parliament as a deputy of Fidesz, which exceeded the 5 percent
threshold for the first time in the 1994 elections. He became the prime
minister in the 1998 elections, at the age of 45, as the leader of the party in
the next election. The biggest share in this is the privatization and the
austerity policies implemented under the guidance of the IMF between 1994-1998
by the MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party), which was called "socialist"
but has nothing to do with social democracy.
Orban had hinted to the government that it would be
“liberal” and would follow a policy compatible with the West. In this context,
the similarities with the conjuncture in which the AKP came to power in 2001 are
Hungary joined NATO in 1999, the first year of Orban's rule.
But despite the support of the West, narrowly lost both the 2002 and 2006
In the meantime Orban realized that a nationalist and
chauvinist rhetoric at home, without scaring the West, opened up greater
opportunities in politics, and he came to power in 2010, never to go again.
Orban, who could not afford to oppose the West and especially the EU values
in the first four years, came to power unopposed in the 2014 elections, saying:
“My target is an illiberal society!”
In the process, Orban's Hungary, which clashed with Western
liberalism in every field with its violation of the separation of powers,
especially in refugee politics, became a troublemaker for the EU along with Poland,
which was no different from Hungary in this regard. But the EU had nothing to
do. Orban continued to receive the support of the voters with his successful
consolidation moves. On the other hand, by developing cooperation with
conservative regimes such as Poland, Turkey and Serbia, and even by pursuing a
more balanced foreign policy with Russia, Orban successfully maintains
Hungary's "national interests" in foreign policy in the eyes of the
However, in the 12-year period in Hungary, the loss of the
independence of the judiciary, the restriction of democratic rights, and many
similar areas, the Hungarian people were taken under control. In this stance,
before the 2022 elections, almost all the parties united and formed an
electoral alliance against Orban, and hopes that this period would end had
begun to sprout. But on April 4, 2022, something unexpected happened and Orban
had the biggest electoral success of his political career. In the 2018
elections, the parties that received 45 percent of the total votes received 34
percent of the votes, even though they were united.
In our next article, we'll take a closer look at how Orban
won, or why the opposition lost.