How Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his populist-right party is slowly destroying his country’s democracy.
BUDAPEST, Hungary—It’s a few days before the May 25 European Parliament elections, and the streets of Budapest are awash with colorful campaign posters urging Hungarians to vote for delegates to represent their country in Brussels. It would be a shining display of democracy in action, a comforting reminder of Hungary’s 10-year membership in the European Union after decades of repressive communist rule, if not for the fact that almost all the signs are for one party—the ruling populist-right Fidesz.
Photo by Yigal Schleifer
The party’s campaign advertising is inescapable. On subway platforms, its trademark orange greets commuters as they step off their trains. On sidewalks, signs proclaiming the party’s simple, yet telling slogan—“Only Fidesz!!”— are plastered on 15-foot-high, circular advertising kiosks towering over pedestrians. And on the highway into Budapest from the airport, I count so many billboards featuring the half-smiling face of Fidesz leader Prime Minister Viktor Orban, that it reminds me of 1980s Romania, when roads were lined with nothing but signs extolling the virtues of communist strong man Nicolae Ceausescu.