Hungary’s right-wing FIDESZ political party achieved a two thirds parliamentary majority this spring, ending eight years of Socialist rule.
Many predicted that once FIDESZ was in power, especially with a two thirds majority that allows them to modify the country’s constitution without opposition support, they will turn their back on democracy. While I had no illusions about the FIDESZ leader, Viktor Orban (he may be portraying himself as the leader of pro-democracy, anti-Communist forces but all too often, his behavior and mannerisms remind me of the country’s pre-1989 Kadar-era elite), I had no such worries: political parties come and go, but 20 years after the collapse of Communism, the democratic institutions of Hungary, a member of the European Union, seemed solid and stable.
Now I am not so certain. FIDESZ introduced a media bill in Parliament that seems to confirm some of the worst fears of their opponents. Is Orban really aspiring to become Europe’s next Lukasenko? I wish I could answer that question with a firm negative.
I keep telling myself that I should not care. I live in Canada, and while I may occasionally doubt Stephen Harper’s prowess as Prime Minister, I have no reason to doubt his commitment to democracy. So why should I care about what happens in a teeny little country in the backwaters of Europe, full of delusions of grandeur and outdated, obsolete political ideals worshiped by its “Christian middle class”?
And, truth to tell, I care less and less. I still care because my parents live there and might suffer as a result of a government gone berserk. And, I occasionally meet Hungarian expats here who don’t realize that 1956 was more than half a century ago as they celebrate the “defeat of the Reds”. (Replaying a revolution that never happened was a recurring theme in the FIDESZ political rhetoric, too.) Other than that… if the majority of Hungarians really believe that this is the route to the country’s salvation, well, enjoy.