Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party won another election in Hungary this weekend. Pollsters claimed Orban’s party looked more vulnerable this election than it’s prior elections defending its large majority. Fidesz emerged with a substantial majority with minor gains to its seats. Right wing pundits gush over Orban and miss key points to his governance. Orban made significant changes once taking power and has delivered to constituents.
It is that simple. Win, entrench your party in power, punish enemies and deliver the goods. The GOP does none of this so pundits cheer and miss the key procedures. Orban won a supermajority in 2010 and with that power exercised it. Constitutional reform reduced the number of seats in parliament, reconfigured districts and lowered retirement ages for judges. A protective measure was making it so future changes required a supermajority of votes whereas previously changes needed simple majorities. With Fidesz’s changes, they made changes and locked in those changes unless a massive opposition took power. With the parliamentary changes, they made it so Fidesz could lose support but likely keep a majority and almost make it impossible for a new majority to change their changes. It was more comprehensive but the details are unnecessary to express the radical change.
A more offense oriented change concerned media. Media legislation required media entities to register with the government, required balanced media content that was relevant to citizens and imposed fines and potential license revocations for violators. Fidesz did not stop there and instituted a media council as an overseer for these new regulations. Fidesz staffed the council. This council had a member who also directed the state media outlets. The state media staff then experienced mass re-staffing.
This is why the clenched jaw, left wing anger is comical. Orban enjoys glowing media coverage. Mail in ballots did not require identification verification. The people had to hunt online for other information sources. Orban created dependent family voters. Fidesz creatively redrew voting districts. All of these flagrant acts are captured here in tongue in cheek fashion. It is geopolitical pot and kettle whining no different than Condi Rice bemoaning Russia’s unlawful invasion of a sovereign nation. The left cannot stand anyone using their tactics. Orban has just done it with campaign rhetoric, governance and follow through.
Fidesz cemented electoral power and changed how the media operated, but he still had to deliver. His first big zig when Europe zagged was saying no to migrants during Merkel’s migrant crisis. Fences went up and were patrolled. Orban instituted pro-natalist policies for his constituents. He had the money to do this because Hungary aggressively paid down IMF loans. Hungary reduced its debt to GDP during the euro crisis and by doing so had money to spare for these pro-family policies.
The results are encouraging but not electrifying. Pundits can scoff at them, but writers like Rod Dreher are excited. Anything bending the fertility rate up should be applauded. Fidesz’s work is not perfect but at least is an attempt producing measurable results. While they look at Hungary as a policy lab with results in real time, they miss the governance work that preceded them.
Pro-natalist policies would not work in America with our media messaging system. The left would twist any pro-natalist policy that encouraged marriage as patriarchal and anything that rewarded good behavior as white supremacist. States could craft tax policy to encourage marriage. Actually writing federal pro-natalist ideas into law would provide our deep state activists the opportunity to design pro-natalist policies that will provide America with a bigger underclass.
Politics is downstream of culture? Who and what sets the cultural tone? What is allowed? What gets funded? People praise Florida banning LGBT talks for K-3rd graders but cede ground that it is okay to discuss with ten year olds in the 4th grade. With the proper exercise of political power, politics can mold the culture. Orban did this in 2011 and then made moves for his constituents. The framing of his policies were massaged by his hand selected crowd. Hungarian media is limited with what it can grumble about even though it still grumbles. Viktor Orban does not have to worry about George Floyd becoming a saint and sparking a mass cult movement. Because of this, he is not subject to holiness spirals. Because of the hard work reconfiguring the political system, Orban will continue to win. For the right to win elsewhere, they should stop applauding Orban and start learning how he built the cadre of operatives that became the party and bureaucrats who made his reforms possible.