The Death of Hungary’s Contrived Democracy Experiment
Hungary’s ninth most bizarre and unfair national elections took place on April 3, 2022. The first in 1990, was won by a group of the previous regime’s fellow travelers, who knew close to nothing about governing a country. The resulting collective disappointment brought back in 1994 the reform Communists of the 1980s. In 1998, the Viktor Orban-led Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ), formed a coalition government with the antediluvian Smallholders’ Party. In 2002, his government, riddled with incompetence and corruption, was unceremoniously booted out of power by a coalition of the politically still presentable reform Communists and an unruly collection of self-aggrandizing neoliberal titans. This unlikely coalition survived for another eight unsuccessful years, which included the worldwide economic crisis in 2008-2009. In 2010, the Young Democrats returned to power with 54% of the votes. Since then, headed by the indestructible Viktor Orban, the not so Young and definitely not Democrats have repeated the same act three more times, in 2014, in 2018, and very recently in 2022.
Regardless of Viktor Orban’s and his party’s wins, the overall situation in Hungary has remained unequivocally frightening. In spite of significant financial support by the European Union, the promised progress to democracy and a more equitable distribution of the national wealth has never materialized. Under Viktor Orban’s premiership, Hungary has been metamorphosed from a resentfully developing constitutional system into a ruthless criminal syndicate. Economically, almost 50% of Hungarians still cannot afford basic resources. Conversely, the constitutionally unrestrained and politically unaccountable Orban governments have stolen and embezzled most of the economic wealth of the country. In this manner, Hungary has again lost another decade in moving closer politically and economically to the developed member states of the European Union.
More importantly, Hungary has even regressed backward by Viktor Orban’s “Illiberal Democracy.” While he has never defined it unambiguously, life in Hungary has shown that this kind of a rogue regime means nothing but absolute power for him – made even more despicable by unbridled corruption as well as unconditional impunity for his extended family and his closest collaborators. In other words, behind the facade of “Illiberal Democracy” lurks the real Hungary, in which the mentality of centuries-old feudalistic order is mixed in a chaotic jumble with the loathsome reality of a well organized criminal syndicate. Mainly, Orban’s “Illiberal Democracy” must be rebranded as a viscerally evil “Kleptocracy.” Undoubtedly, it is highly destructive for a truly free society. Indeed, his kleptocratic “Illiberal Democracy” is the sworn enemy of real democracy and economic prosperity, because it is the mythical “Horn of Amalthea” and a genuine cornucopia of inexhaustible wealth for this Hungarian tyrant.
Foreign and domestic analyses before the elections were full of erroneous opinions regarding the present situation in Hungary. In the United States of America, leading media personalities have praised Viktor Orban and the overall conditions in Hungary. In particular, Tucker Carlson of Fox News Channel and Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, excelled in relentlessly spreading pro-Orban propaganda with outrageously fabricated reporting on the blessings of the latter’s “Illiberal Democracy,” equating it falsely with genuine democratic conservatism. Unsurprisingly, they have been unable to explain the uniquely Hungarian phenomenon of the majority’s strange behavior of repeatedly submitting themselves to a political power that keeps them in abject poverty as well as political slavery. However, anyone who desires to really comprehend the actual state of affairs, the mentality and the lives of the Hungarians should study Patty Hearst’s curious affair with the Symbionese Liberation Army of 1974.
As has been exhaustively chronicled by the media and Hollywood, the granddaughter of American media magnate William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped on February 4, 1974. Brainwashed and abused, the 19-year old Patty Hearst joined the group to commit several armed robberies. Whether she was a victim of coercion or a converted criminal remained unresolved by her criminal trial. What is more important, however, is the undeniable fact of her impossible state of mind, namely, being simultaneously an initial victim and a duped collaborator of her submission. Her personal tragedy was straight up good versus evil.
Similarly, the majority of Hungarian and their ethnic kinfolks in the neighboring countries, consider themselves the innocent victims of the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty that decimated historic Hungary’s territory as well as its population. Predictably, they have attached great importance to the logic of good versus evil among themselves and in relation with their neighbors in the region. Thus, a nation inside and outside Hungary’s present national boundaries, has become divided against itself. Hatred, jealousy and desperation have taken hold of the Hungarian national consciousness. Collaboration with the evil “Illiberal Democracy” has been a life or death predicament for every Hungarian.
Yet, no country, no institution and no ideology can normally develop by constantly highlighting its miseries. Nor can the belief in unrealistic and fallacious historical narratives provide the people with real knowledge of themselves as well as the outside environment. This instability of the political realm has prevented the emergence of a new politics and perhaps a new conception as well as spirituality of being a Hungarian.
For these reasons, Viktor Orban’s hate-filled fearmongering and divisive rhetoric might have been seen as a personal victory for him, but a tragic defeat for Hungary. Constitutionally, the new/old Orban government will be incapable of changing its corrupt ways. Understandably, such a state of affairs cannot continue much longer. Clinging to its self-defeating domestic and foreign policies, Hungary will not abandon its ambivalence and, therefore, it will remain an absurdly underdeveloped member of the European Union, in which the law of the jungle will always be superimposed on the rule of law. In the precious words of a late friend of mine, Istvan Gereben: “Hungary is and will remain for the foreseeable future a hopelessly lost cause for its long suffering citizens, the European Union and the rest of the world.”
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