In 2018, tens of thousands of people, perhaps even 100,000, contesting the results of the Hungarian elections crushed by Viktor Orban’s Fidesz, pounded the pavement in Budapest over the following two weekends. The national-conservative and populist party had just won 49% of the votes, converted into two-thirds of the deputies in the Assembly, allowing it to reign unchallenged for a third consecutive term.
The Russian war in the background
While he again submits to universal suffrage on Sunday, April 3, things have changed little. Viktor Orban did not see fit to debate with his opponent. He has not taken part in this exercise since 2006.
United Left-Right Opposition candidate, pro-European conservative Peter Marki-Zay, was only given his legal five minutes, not one more, on public television, which had it , until then, never invited. Since six parties formed a common front and designated their leader last autumn, the alternative has been clear: for or against Orban, who has governed for twelve years by using the art of cleavage, until polarize the whole society to the extreme.
→ PORTRAIT. Peter Marki-Zay, the right-wing alternative to Viktor Orban
But geopolitics has come to reshuffle the cards, and the war in neighboring Ukraine is crushing the countryside, without it being known whether the electoral lines will be modified. From now on, the Hungarians have to choose between ” war and peace “asserts Viktor Orban, whose policy of neutrality places him under strong international pressure, even calling into question his alliance with the Polish PiS.
Facing him, the leader of the opposition excessively accuses him of being “co-responsible for the Russian war” because of his diplomatic proximity to Putin, and brandishes another cleavage: “East or West. »
Unprecedented in the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which described the 2014 and 2018 elections as “free” corn “unfair”, sent a full observation mission. Its critical report, published on March 21, was brushed aside by the government-linked Center for Fundamental Rights, disqualifying its editors as “linked to organizations created by George Soros”the Hungarian-American billionaire. “The objective of the report is quite clear: to cast doubt on the democratic nature of the Hungarian electoral system in order to have a ready-made explanation for the defeat of the left at the ballot box. »
→ TO ANALYSE. Hungary: will the war in Ukraine complicate the re-election of Viktor Orban?
The last legislative elections had been marred by multiple irregularities. The transport of fake voters from neighboring Ukraine, vote buying in the country’s poorest villages and ballot cancellations have even led the NGO Unhack Democracy to claim that Fidesz stole its precious “super majority” two-thirds of Parliament.
This year, the opposition is struggling to ensure the dispatch of observers to all of the country’s 10,286 polling stations. “Voice buying does not date from Fidesz. Fraud has been normalized in Hungary since the 1990s,” explains Zsofia Banuta of Unhack Democracy.
“We are trying to “denormalize” this form of corruption. It’s a long term job.. But we are witnessing an unprecedented commitment from Hungarian civil society,” she rejoices. The opposition has registered 22,000 volunteers, and its Count for Democracy! almost as much.
Elections under high tension
No poll gives the winning opposition, but all anticipate a relatively tight gap, with a lead for the power in place. The situation could be tense in the event of disputed results on the evening of April 3. Fidesz has been agitating for a long time the threat of a destabilization operation orchestrated from abroad.
→ CRITICAL. “Hungary under Orban”, a book to understand Hungary today
“The international left will do everything to change the government in Hungary. We are prepared for this”warned Viktor Orban last summer during an interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, media figure of Trumpism who praises the Hungarian leader.
“The foreign minister hinted that international observers and foreign diplomats could interfere in the pollrecalls Zsofia Banuta. It is very worrying. »
Twelve years of excesses on the rule of law
► Prime Minister between 1998 and 2002 on a very liberal line, Viktor Orban made a 180° turn when he regained power in 2010.
► The cantor of “illiberal democracy” has multiplied the controversial measures: control over most of the media, limitation of the power of NGOs and foreign-funded universities, bill which aims to prohibit “the promotion of homosexuality”…
► Since 2018, Hungary has been subject to a European procedure (article 7) for violation of democratic values. The EU recently adopted a mechanism to cut off funds to a country guilty of undermining the rule of law.