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Why Orban Won

Explaining Fidesz’s Dominance in Hungary

Viktor Orban addresses his supporters in Budapest, April 2018. Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

On Sunday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was reelected to a third consecutive term after his right-wing Fidesz party won 48 percent of the vote, enough for a two-thirds supermajority in parliament. It was a decisive win for Orban, who in recent years has clashed publicly with the European Union, becoming for many a symbol of the illiberal nationalism now rising throughout the West.

Orban’s victory is a product of several factors, but three stand out: the systematic weakening of Hungary’s democratic system, the success of Orban’s antimigration platform, and the fragmentation of the opposition.  

BACKSLIDING AWAY

The first ingredient in Fidesz’s electoral dominance is its rewriting of the rules of Hungarian democracy. The party began its current string of victories in 2010, when Hungarians’ disillusionment with the Socialist government—and more generally with the effects of the postcommunist transition and the 2008–9 financial crisis—allowed Fidesz to capture a constitutional

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