New York Times calls Orbán a ‘soft dictator’

Analysis

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was described as a “soft dictator” in New York Times’ op-ed piece published on Sunday, entitled “The New Dictators Rule by Velvet Fist”. According to the article, in recent decades a new brand of authoritarian government has evolved and “the ‘soft’ dictators concentrate power, stifling opposition and eliminating checks and balances, while using hardly any violence.” 

The op-ed also provides a list of such dictators:  “These illiberal leaders — Alberto K. Fujimori of Peru, Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Viktor Orban of Hungary, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela — threaten to reshape the world order in their image, replacing principles of freedom and law — albeit imperfectly upheld by Western powers — with cynicism and corruption. The West needs to understand how these regimes work and how to confront them.” – the paper says.

According to the piece these “new autocrats use propaganda, censorship and other information-based tricks to inflate their ratings and to convince citizens of their superiority over available alternatives. They peddle an amorphous anti-Western resentment: Mr. Orban mocked Europe’s political correctness and declining competitiveness while soliciting European Union development aid.”

The opinion piece adds that “when their economies do well, such leaders co-opt potential critics with material rewards. In harder times, they use censorship. The new autocrats bribe media owners with advertising contracts, threaten libel suits, and encourage pro-regime investors to purchase critical publications.”

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