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Six Takeaways From Fidesz And Orban’s Big Hungarian Election Win

Andy Heil defines six main takeaways from the 3 April Hungarian elections in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Initial results indicate that ruling party Fidesz will control two-thirds of the seats in the next parliament, establishing a comfortable majority. This result went against expectations, as polls predicted a much closer race, with observers claiming that the elections took place on an unfair playing field.

  1. The win was much bigger than expected. While many expected Fidesz to win, the magnitude of the victory came as a shock.
  2. Not a level playing field. Despite an opposition more united than in recent years, the incremental rewriting of the constitution and election laws, as well as ruling party-allied control of major media outlets across the country strongly skewed the playing field in favour of Fidesz.
  3. Orban's enemies are multiplying. Experts note the strong negative partisanship which characterises the voters in Hungary, with the strong mandate from elections possibly emboldening Orban to continue to vilify such targets as the European Union and George Soros while growing closer with European autocratic leaders.
  4. Possible voting irregularities. While Orban has made legal the electoral modifications he needs for the system to favour Fidesz, evidence of other irregularities could emerge in the aftermath of elections. OSCE/ODIHR requested a full observation mission for these elections, only the second time it has done so for an EU Member State.
  5. A vote overshadowed by war. Orban has cultivated ties with Putin over the years, refusing to directly help the EU in its support of Ukraine. Hungarian voters seem to view being too close to Kyiv as the greater political liability, rather than being too close with Moscow.
  6. Hungarian democracy's last stand? Observers note the importance of these elections in terms of the health of Hungarian democracy: Orban has been in power for sixteen years, and his party Fidesz now controls key democratic institutions and has drastically manipulated the rules of the game. The strong majority win in the face of a united opposition does not bode well for future democratic prospects in Hungary.

Read the full piece here at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.