Doubts in the EU: Hungary strengthens its nationalism

With the re-election of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the European country will strengthen its anti-immigration policies

Doubts in the EU: Hungary strengthens its nationalism

Sunday, April 8, was the day when Hungary's three-time prime minister, Viktor Orbán, won his fourth term - and third in a row - as head of the Eastern European country. The 54-year-old politician, leader of the conservative Fidesz party, won the elections with 49% of the vote and is likely to control the majority of Parliament, that is, his party's 133 seats.

Leer en español: Dudas en la UE: Hungría fortalece el nacionalismo

The winning party increased its results of the 2014 elections by four percentage points. For its part, Jobbik's ultra-rightists only achieved 20% of the vote. The coalition of the left, made up of the "Dialogue" party and the Social Democrats, won 12% of the elections. It was a day with one of the highest participation rates in the democratic history of that country, almost 70% of the qualified exercised their right to vote.

"It's an opportunity to protect Hungary"

Already in the celebration of his victory, Orbán said that this is "an opportunity to be able to protect Hungary". But what exactly do you want to protect? This country leads in Europe the anti-immigration current, as Hungary is opposed to accepting refugees from the Middle East fleeing conflicts such as the Syrian War or Yemen.

The European Union requires its members to adopt a number of refugees to alleviate the flow handled by countries such as Italy and Greece. However, Orbán has refused to open its borders to immigrants and has made this his campaign motto. Thus, the defense of Christian values, in contrast to Muslim ideals -as an example-, the exaltation of national identity and the rejection of multiculturalism have been erected like the flags of Orbán.

In the past, during his crusade to "protect" his country, he has persecuted NGOs whose mission is related to helping refugees. Through a package of laws called "Stop Soros" - named for George Soros, billionaire of Hungarian origin - Orbán seeks to force all these organizations to register in a process that lasts at least nine months. If the project is approved, the NGOs would also be under continuous state surveillance and their donations would be taxed up to 25%. The bill could be passed in parliament in less than a month.

Soros, who amasses a fortune close to 24 billion dollars, is in favor of welfare through large donations managed by the foundations that belong to him. Orbán sees this as a threat from the West to the ideals of his country, so much so that in 2017 he closed the Central European University of Budapest, financed by Soros.

This is not the only attack on the plurality that Orbán has played in his mandates. In 2011, a media law was passed in which a regulatory institution was created, with the power to fine and even close media. The interpretation of such cases remains in the hands of said institution, called the National Media Authority, because there are no clear terms in the law. In 2016, it suspended the circulation and websites of newspapers such as Nepszabadsag, one of the most important in the country. According to Reporters Without Borders, that newspaper was later bought by a company with close ties to Orbán's party.

It is difficult to predict what the future of Hungary holds, however, doubts grow in the European Union as this country successfully leads the anti-liberal currents that the members of the organization seek to curb. There was friction with the far right in Italy, Austria and France, while nationalist feelings grow in the thinking of European citizens. These behaviors may trigger, in the near future, the destabilization of order and the credibility of the EU.


Latin American Post | Iván Parada Hernández

Translated from "Dudas en la UE: Hungría fortalece el nacionalismo" 

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