(Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images)
Hungarian Elections
A Win for Populist Paternalism

After his landslide victory, Viktor Orbán will be empowered to continue Hungary’s slide into authoritarianism—and the opposition will need to rebuild itself from the ground up.

Published on: April 10, 2018
Daniel Hegedüs is visiting fellow in the Rethink.CEE initiative of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) and a visiting lecturer at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
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  • Uncooked Vanilla

    Of course a leftist would call a populist right-wing victory another step toward some vague authoritarianism. Similarly, a conservative or nationalist tends to call left-wing populist victories another step toward some vague authoritarianism. Too predictable. Too sleepy. Yawn.

    Much more interesting question would be “absent the North African and Arab Muslim migration, if that wasn’t factor, would the opposition still have been crushed?”

    In other words, did Hungarians vote predominately, or even entirely, to secure their national borders and culture, or was it something else, or was it all of the above? If the primary issue at hand is national sovereignty and borders, well, what can the opposition do? It would seem that they can’t do very much. Majority simply has different priorities.

    • CheckYourself

      Well I live in very much a swing state in the US. I’m not a single issue voter, but I do have a checklist of critical issues. I only allow a small margin of deviation pretty much on only one of those few issues. Call it a purity test if you like. When I get a call or a personal visit from a prospective candidate, I bring out that list which is a physical piece of paper. I don’t care what their party affiliation is, or even if they have one. I ask them to rank the level of their concern on a few issues from 1 – 10, and perhaps I’ll ask them to get into more detail if I feel their priorities are matching more or less accordingly.

      It’s not necessarily the first question, but certainly immigration laws and enforcement would be in the top three. If it’s not ranked at least a 7 out of 10 for them, or if they support sanctuary cities and yet another amnesty like the 1986 amnesty, then I politely end the conversation at that moment. That’s that. Then I move onto the Internet and into the contacts on my phone and I tell everybody I can who it is that contacted me, and I tell everyone what that candidate does and does not prioritize. I make sure that like-minded people [to me] know not to vote for them.

    • FriendlyGoat

      A lot of elections these days seem to hinge on concerns about immigration and borders. The history of the mid-twentieth century will likely be an accounting of what all else was forfeited or surrendered to the agitators for this particular brand of nationalism. Or, put another way, when does one notice that he got so many Dobermans to guard his place that it literally “went to the dogs” on the inside?

      • Uncooked Vanilla

        Oh, on the contrary, I wonder how many lefty/genuinely progressive social projects could’ve already long been achieved, especially in America, if the progressive left didn’t insist, also, on uncontrolled immigration. Of course, im talking about things like more Public Works/infrastructure spending, some form of single-payer healthcare, and attacking unfair trade practices abroad to benefit and make happy the unions at home and strengthen them in so doing.

        I don’t think the polling is wrong. Single payer, infrastructure spending, and going after unfair traders are popular things. They are popular with people across the board in fact. These are populist things. If progressives pushing these things would just drop the insistence on uncontrolled immigration then the aforementioned would actually become a reality at home.

        • FriendlyGoat

          If all those possibilities were true, I wonder why Republicans didn’t campaign on them. Oh, yeah, I remember, Trump did (even though other Republicans did not). He hinted at infrastructure money from the public sector which will never arrive due to tax cuts passed instead. He hinted at “something fantastic” for health care that would “take care of everybody”—-but no such bill is forthcoming. He implied that trade deals can be abandoned or redone without negative effects from corresponding actions by counterparties. As for “making unions happy”, we will all know by June 30th how Neil Gorsuch whacks all the unions. The hoodoo was complete. Why would you ask me or anyone else to imagine otherwise? Immigration and borders were the hot-button used to give Republicans their “once in a generation opportunity” to permanently screw over all issues of interest to progressives. None of what you mentioned is on any horizon—–wall or no wall.

          • Uncooked Vanilla

            Yes he did run on those things, well not single payer, but the others. He defeated 16 other Republican candidates which included senators and governors, and went on to defeat the Democratic Party. You might say he’s a fake populist, and I might agree with you, or at least say that I’m still sitting on the sidelines and watching. But that doesn’t change the cold hard fact that the populist, fake or not, defeated the clear establishment candidate name of Clinton.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, with help from Facebook, Russians, James Comey, and liars in Evangelical Church, Trump won the three key states for the electoral college by 80,000 votes out of 125,000,000 cast in America. As a result, there is going to be a lot of destruction. Stay tuned on those “sidelines”. The sh*t from this will be falling out of the sky for years to decades. If you really do watch, you’ll notice it.

          • Uncooked Vanilla

            Ohhh, now you’re going to be forced into the uncomfortable position of providing evidence for such claims for which there has been none to date, but more importantly why were there any emails to leak in the first place? Sounds more like you want to shoot the messenger than be angry at Hillary and Podesta and Wasserman-Schultz for DNC corruption and public v private positions. And that doesn’t explain why the Democratic Party has been getting its clock cleaned since 2008. What about 2010, 2012, 2014? Lost more than 1000 seats!

            Really, why was it even so close? Donald Trump is supposedly orange Adolf Hitler. Hillary Clinton had the entire establishment media working for her and a billion dollar war chest. I guess she was just a slightly weaker candidate than orange Hitler Donald?

            Really it’s a travesty that America had two major parties fielding a corrupt warmongering, nation-destroying ditz in HRC and a clownish, corrupt reality TV star.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m never in an uncomfortable position at TAI. Most of the regulars hate me here. If you’re new, you can learn how to do that too. Thing is, I don’t care. For your own sake, if you think Trump is a “clownish, corrupt reality TV star” and you’re on “the sidelines”, don’t corrupt yourself defending him, the circumstances of his election and the “take all” attitude of Republicans since. They don’t own you yet unless you affirmatively agree to the brainwashing. Goodness knows you should not risk your balanced mind arguing with ME, of all people. I’m permanently dyed true blue and am not a candidate for conversion to conservatism.

            As for the facts about Facebook and the election, Mark Z. was not in his suit on Capitol Hill today for no reason. His little experiment in social media screwed the United States, and by extension, the world.
            He knows it. Democrats know it. Even Republicans know it—-to their gleeful astonishment. They did not expect to win The White House, after all, but—-Lo and Behold—–stuff happened.

          • AnonymoussSoldier

            Clinton economics wrecked good chunks of the rest belt, or rather created it. In fact, on the day of the election in 2016, manufacturing had only recovered to even pre 2008 levels in one state (Alaska), and that was on the downturn from the 90s after Clinton’s and Summers’ disastrous years. Then there’s Hillary helping to wreck Libya and joking about the Islamists who killed Qaddafi. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FmIRYvJQeHM

          • FriendlyGoat

            Good grief, A. Soldier, do you really think I can be made to believe stuff like that? I was actually alive for Reaganism and Bushism and the Congress which existed in the Clinton years. I am aware of the business community’s creation of the stock market bubble of 2000, the business community’s creation of the real estate bubble and financial crash of 2008 and the decade of artificially-low interest rates required to mitigate the damage. Please don’t bother me with the Hillary bash.
            It’s bullsh*t.

          • CapitalistRoader

            …the business community’s creation of the real estate bubble…

            Speaking of bullsh*t, this is the biggest piece I’ve seen in a long time. The Federal Government caused the housing bubble, period. Bill Clinton’s insane loosening Community Reinvestment Act lending rules along with the disgusting graft by politicians like Barney Frank set up the whole industry, from construction to financing, for a massive failure.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Sure. Whatever you say, boss. Those bumbling Dems must have blown up all the smart guys at Bear, Lehman, AIG, Countrywide, Merrill, Bank of America and the rest.

          • CapitalistRoader

            Yes! We have an excessive degree of concern!

            Cripes. But it’s OK because Barney got a sweet job at a bank that he used to regulate. More importantly: In 1987, Representative Frank became the first member of Congress to voluntarily acknowledge being openly gay, and in 2012, he became the nation’s first congressman to marry someone of the same sex while in office, which is way more important than some stupid regulation of crony capitalist government sponsored entities.

            The man is a saint!

          • AnonymoussSoldier

            Oh really? So that video is fake? Hillary didn’t joke about that? Which one do you want to talk about? You want to talk about Libya? You want to talk about one of the most successful African states now basically failed with open air slave markets, and idiot Hillary sitting there joking? You want to talk about the 90s and economics? You want to talk about giving the Communist dictatorship in China MFN status just a few years after Tiananmen? You want to talk about glass-steagall? Heck. I’ll school you on both! Just let me know.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I didn’t even look at the video. You (and many people) have this “agenda” to prove why you have to support Trumpism——BECAUSE of Hillary. I don’t bite it.

          • AnonymoussSoldier

            Ah, the old fingers in ears and singing of lalala. That is her gross and infamous “we came, we saw, he died” comment referencing Qaddafi dying when Islamists caught him, shoved a large knife in his rectum, and then shot him in the head, and all of horrors that has day in october, 2011, has meant for Libya since.

          • FriendlyGoat

            So what? Video exists (or could exist) of Donald Trump saying all sorts of crazy sh*t. You are asking me to believe that Hillary (or Bill) is a reason for the entire smarmy philosophy of political conservatism. I already told you I don’t bite it

          • Uncooked Vanilla

            FG here is clearly a shillary bot, aka Shillbot for short. They are still active post-2016. He/she/it does not care what gross things she said or nations she helped to ruin. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-clinton-digital-trolling-20160506-snap-htmlstory.html

          • AnonymoussSoldier

            Well sure, but what do you expect from these people? Bubba bill came in talking tough (rightly so) about HWs shortcomings in dealing with the Tiananmen Massacre, and then pretty promptly reversed. I bet the Chicoms had the goods on Bills hanky panky and other indiscretions well before Monica. http://tech.mit.edu/V114/N27/china.27w.html

          • Anthony

            FG, read this interpretation of a “point” you’ve made quite evidently: http://www.libertylawsite.org/2018/04/09/trump-gargoyle-trade-deplorable-immigration-north-korea/#comment-1656586

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. Do you get the impression that this author is at least a halfway supporter of Trumpism looking for ways to decry him only symbolically? Declaring, as he does, that the core base of Trump supporters do not share his grotesquerie or are not deplorable doesn’t work for me. This is not the age of medieval ignorance and people are not mystified by stone creatures on buildings. Those sticking with Trump and Trumpism know why. They have wanted to be thumpers of everyone else for a long time and now believe they are living their fantasy with a government which will do that for them.

            This author in the next to last paragraph even suggests reasons why we should feel sorry for Trump while perhaps applauding “some” (unidentified) of his policies. I think he is just another apologist with a weird twist (gargoyles) in writing.

          • Anthony

            Of course the author supports Trump (or at least supports Trump’s election over his 2016 rival). And the site generally attracts identified Libertarians (whatever that truly means) so they couch their Trump support in more rarefied language; but at the end, it comes out the same. A key “tell” to your last paragraph remains “comfort and security to those it protected” – fierce, hideous creatures were needed to face down ferocious evil. As always, you’re welcome.

        • StudentZ

          Democrats have not been proponents of uncontrolled immigration, though. Clinton gave us IIRIRA in 1996, which led to a spike in deportations in 1997. Obama continued Bush’s Secure Communities policy and increased deportations up until 2011, when there was a widespread backlash from urban communities and law enforcement at the local level. I’m not trying to say Democrats and Republicans are on the same wavelength currently, but some of their more tolerant positions on immigration are relatively new (arising within the last decade) and are, I would argue, a response to changing demographics (as opposed to some Utopian social welfare agenda). Both the Democrats and Republicans are responding to aging baby boomers, the growing dependent population they represent, and the perceived economic effects of immigrant labor.

          • Unelected Leader

            Are you familiar with Operation Vanguard? Probably not. It was a short-lived, highly successful program. Why was it so short-lived you might ask? Precisely because it was so successful. A true victim of its own success. So, too, was the senior INS official who crafted it.

            It was a sort of experimental program 1998-1999 taking place across Iowa and South Dakota, but mostly Nebraska. INS would work with local law-enforcement and instead of conducting surprise raids on packing houses they would quietly ask for and retrieve personnel files and employment records for auditing.

            Not only did this root out who was legal and who was illegal at a given packing house, but of course the word spread like wild fire and the illegals packed up and left on their own accord by and large. It was to be repeated every few months over the next several years until the packing houses were weaned off their cheap, illegal labor addiction and corruption.

            This time it was both Democrat and Republican corruption and greed that prevented enforcement of the law. At the time Governor Mike Johanns and Sen. Hagel teamed up with the hired gun, former Gov. Nelson, to pressure the DOJ to end the enforcement of immigration law in this way, specifically targeting operation vanguard. Eventually, corruption and greed won out. The program was ended and the senior INS official who had crafted it was forced into early retirement.

          • StudentZ

            This has actually been a topic in recent news because of the resurgence of workplace raids. See this New York Times article, for example:
            https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/business/economy/immigration-raids.html

            Philip Martin has written about Operation Vanguard in a number of his books on the economic effects of immigration on agriculture and related industries. Here’s one source that’s accessible online (go to page 43 of the pdf):
            http://www.fudepa.org/Biblioteca/recursos/ficheros/BMI20060000418/imp36.pdf
            It’s worth reading some of Martin’s recommendations following the section on Operation Vanguard.

            Also, here are a couple of other articles that may not paint Operation Vanguard in such a favorable light:
            http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/58316-david-bacon–the-bitter-truth-about-immigration-enforcement
            https://www.economist.com/node/248941

            Anyway, I find this sort of thing really interesting and thought people might want to read more.

          • Suzy Dixon

            I don’t know where you’re from but Mexicans and other Hispanics are not out in the fields in the Midwest. I don’t know about picking strawberries and all of that, farther south, but the growing of corn and soybeans is done by a handful of people in a family who work very hard. Don’t ever let anybody lie to you and tell you otherwise if you haven’t ever lived in or even really travel through the Midwest to see it for yourself.

            However, illegals do work in the packing houses and the packinghouse owners have literally kept the wage stagnant for 50 years! It’s really unbelievable. Someone could probably get a PhD calculating the exact number of what is tantamount to wage theft. Forget about the old “pay their fair share [of taxes]”. These goons haven’t paid their fair share of wages, and they’ve broken the law to avoid it.

            Packing house work is a non-tradable sector job,so instead of outsourcing they just use illegal migrants. Really started in earnest in the 80s with the Reagan-era amnesty. I know some guys who worked in packing houses around 1970 after Vietnam tours. They were making about $1.70 an hour. It’s the same wage today! Buying power of $1.70 in 1970 was about $11 adjusted. The average wage is still about $11 an hour. Hasn’t moved.

          • Unelected Leader

            I grew up in Minnesota and Illinois, so I know what you’re saying is true, of course. I’ve done my time filing the planter with buckets by hand, detasseling corn, and stacking bales on 100 degree days. Hiding in a drainage pipe (not very safe!) just to avoid being pelted by large hail. I also know some of those “good ol boy” types too. 70-year-olds now, but yeah they were young men 50 years ago. They’ll tell you something like “yeah we worked for $1.70 an hour, but then again hamburger was $0.50 a pound” etc. Well hamburger is not $0.50 per pound today, that much I can tell you, yet their wage is the same as it was 50 years ago. The corruption and greed of the packing house owners and others addicted to illegal labor is insatiable. It’s a travesty of justice that they are allowed to break the law in the first place, but somehow it’s worse that they are doing it to depress wages.

      • Gary Hemminger

        If rational people don’t protect the borders, irrational people will. the elites promoting open borders are creating the authoritarians. The elites want chaos, and the authoritarians promise to end the chaos. Stop promoting Chaos and you will stop the authoritarians. Did no one actually take a history class to realize this?

        • FriendlyGoat

          I guess you’re reinforcing my point that the border issue tends to elect “irrational people” with respect to other issues, no? All that immigrant “chaos” was why Republicans eviscerated the tax code, right? C’mon Gary. If was a con of epic proportions.

  • WigWag

    “…aimed at further restricting the functioning of foreign-funded NGOs associated with the Open Society network and introducing sanctions against their representatives and employees…” (Daniel Hagedus)

    Please tell me exactly where it’s written in the annals of democracy that foreign, usually tax-exempt non-governmental organizations, funded by foreign states, billionaires or millionaires have the unfettered right to operate in any nation of their choosing.

    Is it really undemocratic to insist that foreign tax-free entities funded by the Davoisie operate under rules duly enacted by local legislatures democratically elected?

    The problem with cosmopolitan elites, most certainly including George Soros, is that they fervently believe that their right to propogandize wherever and whenever they want is superior to the right of democratically elected governments to enact regulations that regulate the privileges of these foreign based entities.

    Mr. Orbán may be a monster, an enlightened leader or something in between; I don’t know enough to say. What I do know is that the arrogance of American billionaires and governments like Germany which believe their rights to operate unhindered trumps the rights of democratically elected officials to regulate them is precisely why the international left and the elites which define it are being discredited all over the world.

  • Micah718

    An entire article about situation in Hungary that doesn’t even MENTION Muslim invasion and what effect it had on voters? Thanks for wasting my time Daniel Hegedus.

    • C***servativeLibtard

      Clearly you’d rather get your news from breitbart or fox. You wasted your own time.

  • Gary Hemminger

    If people in Europe and around the world want to prevent authoritarians, then look in the mirror and stop pretending that anyone that wants to control their own borders is a racist, xenophobic, slob. Calling rational people who want to control their own borders racist, xenophobic, slobs is a sure fire way to make authoritarians win elections. Why do you think we have Trump in America? Why do you think Brexit happened? It isn’t because of a bunch of racist, xenophobic slobs; it is because of a bunch of lunatic elites that want to pretend that inviting anyone into their country is the only way to think rationally. The elites are causing chaos, and authoritarians are only too happy to fill the void. THE ELITES ARE THE PROBLEM. They invite chaos and then when bad actors promise to prevent the chaos, they scream bloody murder. Look in the mirror elites. You are the chaos. they all think alike and think that anyone that doesn’t think like them is a racist, xenophobic, slob. Absolute stupidity. Nothing makes me worry more about authoritarians than those that cause them. The Elites are drawing in authoritarians like flies to (you know what).

  • QET

    Time to dissolve the people and elect another. It’s the only way.

  • Peta Johnson

    The article is conclusory. It needs detail about government measures in Hungary that support the anti-government statements made. I do not know enough to comment on Mr. Orban, but I am little the wiser after reading this article.

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