A Hungarian recipe for illiberal campaign success

The official countdown to the April parliamentary elections was kicked off this past weekend, but the real campaign started months, even years ago.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
A Hungarian recipe for illiberal campaign success - NewsMavens
Viktor Orban by WikiCommons

Why this story matters:

The governing party -- Fidesz -- has been preparing for this year’s election for a long time. To ensure its success the members of the ruling government party enacted a fool proof plan.

First, they worked on systematically silencing the independent media. The few that survive face constant threat and their journalists are officially considered traitors. 

Second, they designated "perfect scapegoats” to blame problems on: migrants and George Soros. Refugees are considered invaders who threaten Christian values, the job market, and the safety of women. While George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire, is accused of encouraging migration and meddling in Hungarian internal affairs.

Third, thousands of pro-government billboards were plastered across the country. By the time the campaign began, Fidesz had reserved most of commercially available spaces. The opposition will thus have a very difficult time getting its message to voters as clearly. 

And finally, Fidesz modified the election system, redrawing the electoral map in a way that favors their party. 

The ruling government faces a weak, divided opposition. According to most analysts, the question is not whether Fidesz will be elected but by how large a margin -- and at what cost to Hungarian society.

Details from the story:

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban held his annual campaign speech on Sunday at Varkert Bazar in front of about 1,500 people. 
  • "Independence is not like jam. It can't be stored on the shelf forever ... from time to time, it needs to be defended," Orban said.
  • He also talked about a new "species of human" called "homo sorosensus" referring to those who are not against George Soros.
  • Most newspapers, websites, TV channels and radio stations have been bought by businessmen loyal to the ruling Fidesz party and echo the governmental narrative.
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