Life in a dying democracy – an American journalist about Hungary
Vox’s Zack Beauchamp came on a trip to Hungary to study the political situation, and he shared his experiences in a podcast (mp3) titled ‘Democracy dies in daylight’ with his readers and listeners – reported index.hu.
Hungary is slipping back to autocracy
The title reflects Washington Post’s well-known slogan, ‘democracy dies in darkness’. Beauchamp clears in his podcast that Hungary is only seemingly a democracy. There are elections, there is an opposition, but the country does not function as a democracy any longer. According to him, the country quietly backslides into autocracy since
PM Viktor Orbán slowly dismantles all the important components and institutions of democracy.
Hungary is similar to a ship made of wood on which all the floorboards are slowly replaced one after the other. After a while, however; we get a new ship, and nobody can say at which point we replaced the old with a new one.
The journalist talks about PM Orbán’s strategy, too. For example, he mentions that Orbán created his political support with the help of the problem of migration. He adds that with his “allies” he built up a media empire while he shut down other media outlets. Furthermore, he has packed the courts with pliant judges and gerrymandered electoral districts to give his party a permanent advantage on the national elections. In conclusion, he highlights that the prosperous Hungarian democracy, in the past eight years,
moved towards a kind of pseudo-authoritarianism.
The government always gets what it wants
Still, he also stresses that people are feeling well in Hungary, ruin pubs are very good, and Budapest is a super city.
However, if somebody tries to do business in an area in which politics is interested in, he will inevitably confront the power of Fidesz. For example, he talked with an entrepreneur who had a prosperous company. However, one day
somebody called him from the government
and said on the phone that he heard that his company is to be sold. Of course, the entrepreneur said that it is not.
However, the man from the government did not give up so easily and organised the deal with a wealthy Middle-Eastern investor. At the same time, the entrepreneur realised that if he does not sign the contract, he will never get any more money or EU-allocation and finally,
he will be expelled from the market.
Therefore, he sold it, and now he is going to leave Hungary together with his family. They do not want to live in a country which is trapped by Fidesz. The journalist did not believe the story of the wealthy Middle-Eastern investor, and he said in the podcast that it was the government that the real buyer was.
This is not the first time that foreign media criticises the Hungarian government. In May, BBC reported that there is a general climate of fear in Hungary.
Featured image: facebook.com/zack.beauchamp.9