Hungary, Orban, Parliament discussed on Worldly
Maybe there's a few leaves in there and it keeps like riding over Jen's face sometimes we just see a mouth in some disembodied tattoos talking to us it's like enjoy interacting with somebody So yeah as you. Listeners are aware of at this point we are recording from our home studios which is to say just places in our actual houses. We apologize for any errors in the quality of sound so we are talking about a common feature of crises of any sort. Which is that leaders. Who have authoritarian tendencies often tend to use them to expand their own power? And this is true. Both in the thornberry in states where it's to be expected but also in countries that are nominally democratic but have elected leaders who have consolidated their own power and used it to undermine the process of elections themselves. No country is more known for this phenomenon. Hungary where just in this past week? The parliament which is controlled by Prime Minister Viktor. Orban's government passed a bill that would essentially give him the ability to rule by dictate for as long as he wants not just the duration of the crisis but literally as as long as he sees fit to be in charge of the country and ruling it by his own orders Jenner. Alex is there any other order like that? You're aware of in any democracy around the world democracy. No we see these kinds of orders all the time in authoritarian countries the sweeping power here in Hungary is so pervasive. I mean we'll go into the details momentarily but I think just generally speaking. It's important to note that is effectively. Cut off any form of dissent especially from journalists that has given the authorities a lot of power to kind of jail people for staying outside of quarantines wherever may be antidote suspended a lot of the political processes whether it be elections whether it be actual having a parliament etc and so like this is unheard of in the democratic world? I mean democratic nations. Do take a lot of steps that trample on civil freedoms and whatnot. And we'll get into those but this is way beyond this is very much a centralizing the power in the executive and in Orban's specifically in Hungary and so this this is why it's it's stepped outside of the norm and broken through Outside of all the other cases that will soon talk about this is so much further and so much more authoritarian than we've seen and it's even leading calls. I mean it's gotten so bad that even some in the European Union are saying maybe it's time to kick Hungary out. Yeah Zach longtime worldly listeners. Probably know that you did a really awesome reporting trip. In Hungary in the not too distant past time has no meaning anymore. We are in the ninety third day of March. I think that's correct. Yes even though. It's April first one one recording this and since you know a lot about Hungary and have done some really great on the ground reporting there. I wonder if you could just walk us through in detail. What specifically or bonded what these orders are and how he pushed it through. Because I'm still you know I know the kind of general outline but I wonder if you could just walk us through the details here so it's important to understand the background here. That is to say what the Orban's government has been doing for the past ten years. Roughly that it's been in power or was prime minister of the country is not his first time in power. He was shortly after the end of the Cold War and his party lost an election an early one and he decided afterwards that the problem was not with anything that he had done. But with the voters and the media and so on that yet his his feet as faction or fee dash depending on how accurate. You WanNa be in terms of the Hungarian pronunciation. I'm not going to be accurate this time because my Hungarian is very very bad or bond after after taking power this time around systematically worked to undermine the free functioning of democracy. Now this is not being until right now a overtly authoritarian takeover of the state. That's a relatively new thing What he has done instead is very very. Subtly corrupt the system to rig the playing field of elections specifically parliamentary elections. The important ones and to make it difficult for anyone to fund or start off any meaningful opposition bloc so this involves things like redistributing economic and regulatory favors towards his friends and his political allies buying up media broadcasters and newspapers to the point where something like ninety percents of all media outlets and Hungary by one estimate are owned either by the government or by its associates that is to say business leaders or rich people who've been empowered by the state to work with them and to make it so that elections are functionally noncompetitive and by functionally non competitive. I don't mean that opposition can't run and they can say what they wanna say can do all of those things until recently you didn't go to jail in Hungary for expressing to send what they did was make it such that it was already difficult to begin with because they gerrymandered. The map pretty profoundly so that feed us would have structural advantages in the electorate. They also would not give equal time to opposition members. They would do tricks like stand up faked parties with similar names. This one is less proven but so plausible or voted. Ballet's Lee. Yeah. They tried this before. That's crazy I heard on the underground for people in Hungary but the point was to make it so that it still looks like a democratic political system. It talked like a democratic political system. But you know when you're you're actually paying attention close and very very detailed attention to the way the electoral system functioned. You'd realize that this is not an electoral system at all. It's a way of legitimising. One man rule They also amended the constitution of variety of different ways with a two-thirds majority which they've won repeatedly in these rigged elections. So when I was there in two thousand eighteen there so live debate as to whether Hungary was authoritarian or democratic state and I made the case in my piece to link to in the notes that it was not a democratic state that it was essentially making a mockery of the idea of democracy and there are still some people in the West even who have defended this as merely an expression of the populist. Right-wing will in Hungarian society when in fact or on his real popular support. I don't want to understate this. But in fact or buying You know in the last election. He won under fifty percent of the vote but over two thirds of the seats in Parliament. And that's even despite systematic rigging with the media. This isn't a guy who's winning on a wave of popular support even though he does have some in reality the current order. You know part of me wonders why the decided to issue this at all because it it strips away the subtle and clever veneer that the government had used claim that they were still democratic state as Alex said it indefinitely suspended democratic procedure most notably by giving ORB on the ability to issue authoritative dictates. So he just sort of says so literal dust. Yes exactly right. What's more is that? This order doesn't have an expiration date. It doesn't say until X. amount of Kovic cases are under control It it just as long as or bond himself decides that he wants to rule this way he can now it's possible for parliament's to vote and remove the powers from them. And maybe they will but if they do. It won't be in a way that provides meaningful constraints on Orban's power because again it is controlled two thirds by feed as the court also has oversight but Orban has systematically worked to pack the courts with his cronies and neuter the courts jurisdiction to make it difficult for them to overturn the ruling. And if you want to report critically on this if you're in the ten percent of media outlets that are not owned by the government or one of its allies you can be put in jail for five years under this legislation for spreading false information. Now this is supposed to be in theory about Corona virus of course when you have one strong man in charge guy who's again and again demonstrated his authoritarian instincts. There's no doubt that what this means is. He wants to power and he wants to jail people who threaten them. Just to play devil's advocate here and you know I don't actually you agree with this. But there is the corona virus crisis in Europe right. There's one here in the United States. There's pandemic going on first of all KINDA WANNA know. What is the current situation in Hungary? Like are they in the same kind of situation that like in Italy or Spain or even parts of the? Us like New York to be part of this. Bill basically is allowing like you said him to Orban's had basically issued dictates from the top down but it would seem to maybe make some sense as we're seeing potentially in the US of needing a strong federal government to handle things at a federal level rather than letting local and state or regional leaders making kind of add. Hawk Patrick Decision so one. What's the situation like to? Is there any possibility that this is actually a good move? Even if it doesn't end that itself is pretty scary. Yeah those are fair questions. And they're both wrong so the last amount of cases I've seen and I'm sure the situation changes all the time but last estimate I saw was about four hundred or so positive cases at hungry. That's incredibly small compared to what we've seen in Italy Spain the United States. I've seen in in South Korea and elsewhere the notion that Hungary's hastings such a crisis that requires A dictator literally from the top to solve. The crisis is mute It's never good to have four hundred seven people sick this way but it is not necessarily worse. It's not even close to one of the worst cases in the world. Plus we've also seen democracies handle these crises without needing dictates We've see south. Korea is a good example Heck I know the United States situations out of control but we've ramped up testing and a whole bunch of other measures without needing dictatorial rule. So I guess it's been proven as you do not need authoritarianism or as Zach also wrote eloquently before and we'll show like this notion of authoritarian envy if only we had these strongman rulers in charge. We would somehow be able to curb the scourge early enough to maybe try to answer. Questions is why Hungary doing this now. Y so blatantly and I can't say to have any special knowledge here but if I were a betting man I would say that Hungary is in the EU and so it had to abide by even a thin veneer of democratic practice at a time when everyone is focused on only one thing and especially when a lot of EU countries are facing a lot of this problem. France Spain Italy. Their attention turned elsewhere. And now that thin veneer doesn't need to be there anymore and what's helpful. I guess for someone like or bond is when you make these kinds of laws. When make these kinds of moves? They tend to stick. It's really hard to remove them. And so yeah. We're all criticizing and they'll be podcast episodes about Orban's doing a bad thing but this too shall pass and these laws will remain. And that's what I worry that. He's taken advantage of the small window to probably do something he's wanted to do. But had some constraint against and none of that constraint has gone he's gone full-throttle. Yeah it strikes me Alex to that point as a serious case of authoritarian overreach in some ways like like counterproductive. Move on the Orban's governments part so for one thing as you've pointed out and I it is simply incorrect. That authoritarian powers are necessary to combat the current virus. In fact if you look across cases I spoke to a number of different experts about this. There's no evidence that authoritarian states are performing better and some of the worst countries for example Iran and early on China failed due to the nature of their authoritarian systems. And that's part of why we have a global outbreak to begin with but contrast some democracies like South Korea. Taiwan had performed relatively. Well right. It's just. There's no systematic comparison argument for why you need authoritarian rule by one person or one political party powers in order to do the the the measures necessary to contain corona virus. Which are compatible with you. Know Still Standard Democratic functioning. The second point is I think Oregon and this is a little bit of speculation. But it's based in part on talking to people who know him personally used to work with him including one legislator who's in his party until she realized he was and quit Is that he. He is a guy who really wants and likes to have power right. He wants to rule as a one person states. That is what he's been building towards..