Often people apply the term that Viktor Orbán has himself used approvingly: “illiberal democracy”. But illiberal democracy is a contradiction in terms. That label may usefully describe a transitional phase in the erosion of a liberal democracy, such as we see in Poland, but Hungary is way beyond that. This year the human rights organisation downgraded it to the status of “partly free” country, the only EU member state to earn that dishonour, he writes for The Guardian:
The EU must stop this tragic farce of its own funds being used to undermine European values. It should appoint as European public prosecutor the Romanian Laura Codruţa Kövesi, who knows exactly what post-communist, east European corruption looks like, and make signing up to scrutiny by that European public prosecutor a condition for receipt of those funds. It should also move to distribute more EU funding directly to local government and civil society, rather than letting it be used as a huge, centralised slush fund by a corrupt party-state.
How did the Orbán of the early ’90s, with his long hair and academic aspirations, become the architect of illiberalism? Franklin Foer writes in a must-read analysis for The Atlantic Monthly:
One theory suggests that political expediency pulled him to the right. But the liberals had also wishfully imposed their hopes on Orbán, never looking carefully enough at him to notice that he deeply resented them. “The dorm kids always wanted to show the urban intellectuals that they had always been the smarter, better leaders,” Scheppele told me……