Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won a crushing victory in the country’s parliamentary election on April 3, a victory which he claimed was won despite powerful opposition from a list of enemies that included George Soros, Volodymyr Zelensky, and the international left. He can add another name to that list; his defeated opponent Péter Márki-Zay declared the day before the election that Hillary Clinton inspired his decision to run. He went on to follow her example by losing decisively.
Voters give prime minister a crushing victory
Viktor Orbán has been a longtime target of critics in the United States and the rest of the European Union for his conservative and nationalist policies.
George Soros, who has Hungarian roots, has been especially devoted to unseating Orbán. The prime minister has in turn made Soros effectively a public enemy in Hungary.
Zelensky earned his spot on Orbán’s enemy list by denouncing him as a friend of Putin shortly before the election. Orbán has previously pursued closer relations with Russia but he has denounced the invasion of Ukraine and Hungary remains in NATO.
Péter Márki-Zay had extensive international support as the leader of a coalition of opposition parties formed for the purpose of defeating Orbán’s Fidesz party or at least eliminating its supermajority in the Hungarian National Assembly.
Polling suggested that Fidesz could be defeated and foreign observers, including Hillary Clinton, portrayed the election as a chance for democracy to triumph over authoritarianism.
Unfortunately for the left, democracy means that people are allowed to vote for the other side; Hungarians actually added to the Fidesz majority, giving it 135 seats out of 199.
Soros beaten in Hungary
Clinton, Soros, and other liberals have repeatedly argued that the future of democracy is at stake in Hungary, but the Hungarians themselves have repeatedly voted for Orbán.
It is unclear what “democracy” means in this context if it can’t be reconciled with the fact that Fidesz was given a strong mandate by a clear majority of voters.
The Hungarian prime minister has made himself unpopular internationally through his opposition to mass immigration, gay marriage, and abortion.
For this he is usually depicted as a brutal authoritarian, though there is little doubt that a majority of voters in Hungary agree with his pro-family and nationalist policies.
Orbán’s critics in the United States often see him as an inspiration for the American right, including Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Orbán before the election and he has been widely praised by other American conservatives.
Another victory for the Hungarian prime minister, especially such a convincing victory, is a major setback for the international left at a time when liberals are desperately in need of a morale boost.