On the brink of changing its future, Hungary is on a 12-year path of disruption, which has affected refugees, Hungarians and the entire European Union. With various stakeholders, unwitting or deliberate, the actions leading up to this impasse possess salience. Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has realized his aspiration of creating an illiberal state. This has consequently pushed his country into a state of conflict with the European Union.
This continued and consistent level of controversy has led to the EU triggering article 7, a “nuclear” option, which could end with Hungary losing its voting rights in the EU. At the same time, Hungary is also considering to exit the EU, which would likely have drastic repercussions for them. The recent Sargentini Report found the country flouting Freedom of Speech academically, economically and judicially, while also repressing Freedom of Press, not upholding civil, social and immigrant rights and perpetuating corruption.
Zsofia Meszaros, a Hungarian UvA student, attested that “in the countryside, [you] can only watch three types of channels that are all owned by the Government, which means that it’s their news that comes through.” The legal system is also seemingly corrupted as the President, Janos Ader, has replaced most Supreme Court judges, while a fair portion also resigned after the re-election of Viktor Orban. Zsofia finds this to be a continuing process as “they are practically buying every single newspaper there is,” which she believes is the reason behind his re-election. A lot of Zsofia’s worries were also confirmed in a shocking report by a Dutch member of the greens, Judith Sargentini, in the European Parliament. She has now become one of the most publicly shamed figures in Hungary, called an “enemy of the state” by Orban himself.
“He just has this whole propaganda built up against the immigrants, which is how he gets the votes from the countryside. They are afraid of immigrants because the immigrants are portrayed as the devil in the newspapers which he controls!” Zsofia continued, “it’s not cheating in the way that they fake the votes, it’s cheating in the way the small countryside communities, are being bribed and manipulated to vote.”
On a larger scale, Orban has run his anti-liberal campaign by strongly opposing the provision of refuge for immigrants. In 2015, he built a razor-wire fence around the country’s border to prevent any illegal immigration. With the refugee crisis at the forefront of all EU debates, he has inadvertently become the face of the anti-immigrant group in the EU, finding support in various right-wing parties around the continent. With the EU wanting to vegetize the country, and Hungary wanting to depart from the EU, the future of their relationship seems to be dismal either way. “We would be nothing without the EU! We get money for things like hospitals and without it, our country would just go down,” says Zsofia.
Hungarian nationalists are seemingly drowning the country due, in part, to the lack of education in the countryside and to the manipulation at the hands of the Prime Minister they chose for the third consecutive term. Despite the fact that they are victims of a corrupt system, they are also involuntarily its backbone. When such an intricately connected web of deception and control is woven over a decade, the only way it could dismantle is by falling apart.