According to the prestigious online magazine, The Guardian, Hungarian media landscape is at least concerning under Viktor Orbán’s illiberal regime. After the fall of Lajos Simicska, who had some control over the media, no single person can stop Orbán.
Viktor Orbán is in power in his third term, just a few months after the presidential elections in April. Currently, the government is busy with the alleged ‘Soros plan’ of the EU, migration quotas, and also with the re-establishment of the Hungarian media landscape.
Long way down?
The Guardian writes about the good friendship between Simicska and Orbán that started to deteriorate in 2015 when the businessman turned on the prime minister in a dramatic public dispute. Although formerly they settled the media empire and Fidesz-business connections together, later Simicska became one of Orbán’s biggest and most feared enemies.
“Without Simicska, Orbán would never have become prime minister and without Orbán, Simicska would never have become a billionaire,” wrote Orbán’s biographer Paul Lendvai.”
As the Guardian reports, one can only guess why the two friends started to diverge: some argue that Simicska was too critical of the PM’s continuous approach to Vladimir Putin, while others claim that the counteract was the result of a banal dispute over the shares of the gained assets.
Nevertheless, one thing became certain: that Simicska is the opposition’s best hope against Orbán. Before the 2018 presidential elections, it seemed almost sure that Lajos Simicska, the former friend of Viktor Orbán would drop the ‘atomic bomb’ that liberal Hungarian voters have been longing for.
However, this moment never came, and Orbán could continue the cultural and political reform that he started during his second term in office.
What happens now?
The media empire temporarily taken over by Simicska has been divided and parcelled out. According to a close associate of Simicska, the businessman had no other choice but selling the media outlets. The first breach in Hungarian media freedom was the fall of the newspaper Magyar Nemzet. Secondly, Lánchíd radio station closed, followed by Heti Válasz. The third, and – by now – last measure was the redeeming of Hír TV, a formerly conservative-leaning, but lately Fidesz-critical TV station.
The take-over was quite dramatic and swift as the names of the people to be fired were announced on a piece of a read-out-list, including Olga Kálmán, presenter and editor of a news discussion show.
This was followed by the repeated play of a recent Orbán speech without any intermittence, as a show of power, as suggested by Balázs Láng, the producer.
And what might be the future?
The Guardian suggests that worrying tendencies are taking place in Hungary. The article does not fail to remind readers that Orbán won the elections with his plan to build a new era in forming collective beliefs and new social customs. Following the elections, the OSCE Election Observation Mission for Hungary and Al Jazeera have also been concerned about the current status of media and press freedom in Hungary.
The newspaper claims that besides the take-over of the media, another sign of the populist, traditionalist government is the recent ban on gender studies in Hungary.
Featured image: MTI Photo, Veres Nándor.
Source: The Guardian