Washington Post: ‘Is Hungary ruled by the radical right?’

Parliament

In an article entitled "Is Hungary ruled by the radical right?", Cas Mudde posits that despite warnings about the radical right Jobbik party, the real threat to liberal democracy is posed by the ruling Fidesz party, which, despite acting as a conservative party, it has a tendency to enact policies and use the rhetoric of the radical right.

Despite claiming to be a conservative party, Mudde points to the actions of Fidesz and its leader, Viktor Orbán, as going beyond traditional European conservatism including Orbánʼs proposition to bring back the death penalty, installing "work camps" for immigrants, building a fence along the Serbian border to keep migrants out, and rewriting the constitution to include religious discrimination, undermine judicial independence, and keep loyalists in key long-term positions in order to foil any future governments.

Fidesz maintains its conservatism through its placement in the Hungarian and the European political spectrum, as being to the left of the radical right Jobbik party, and firmly entrenched in the European Parliament’s European Peopleʼs Party (EPP), of which Orbán was Vice-President from 2002-2012, the piece notes.

Mudde says "Many commentators argue that Orbán uses radical right statements for electoral purposes – first to occupy the space left by the implosion of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) in the 1990s and to fend off current competition from the radical right Jobbik. But can a party really take radical positions that are “just strategic” for most of its existence? And does it still matter whether Fidesz is a radical right party or a party that uses radical right policies and rhetoric? The answer: yes and no."

The writer argues that although a Jobbik government would likely take Hungary out of the EU and bring them closer to Russia, while undermining the rights of minorities at home, he says that studies show radical right parties are relatively ineffective in government.

His final point is that "mainstream parties such as Fidesz may be more harmful for liberal democracy than radical right parties such as Jobbik because they often have the experience, power and skills to implement illiberal policies. What’s more, mainstream parties tend to have supporters in important political positions both within their own countries, such as within the bureaucracy and judiciary, and beyond."

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