In central Europe there have recently been some alarming events that perfectly portray symptoms of democratic erosion, caused by the mechanism of populism. Other than the gradual decline in the relative ratings of democratic freedom in central European countries, such as the one I will discuss Hungary, there have been dramatic policy reforms that have been passed that further grants excessive power to an ever reaching government, and limits rights for the individual. Legislation has been passed in favor of traditional marriage and making restrictions on the retirement age and welfare weaker. A right wing idealist with the utmost power in parliament with his supporting majority, and the ability to change the constitution by which he governs, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was able to cease a fuller grip on the populous following the global recession in the late 2000’s. Orban’s support groups grew due to working and middle class people who were unhappy with elites who were taking advantage of the system and who felt little to no effect during the recession. These citizens feared corruption of the government and elected Orban on the grounds that he would oppose the standing system. Since he’s gained control he has instituted a very high 16 percent income tax and made banking laws more lenient and attractive to international banks to incentivise their presence in Hungary. Having various ideas is cohesive for progressive democratic development; but Hungary poses to set a dangerous precedent for other Democratic nations, that are susceptible to control through a unitary system.
It is hard to tell in regimes like this, whether there is a solidified support form the majority of the population opposing this rule, because the government is often in charge of reporting several facets that determine how democratic a state appears. We have no way of knowing if the number of votes garnered for seats in parliament is accurately representative of a majority. Orban has stated on several occasions namely in the summer of 2014 that he believes people are not “free to do anything that does not violate another person’s freedom” (http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/05/hungary-and-poland-arent-democratic-theyre-authoritarian/). Statements like this can be scary because it starts with taking away basic freedom of expression rights. Steps that Orban has taken along these lines are merely steps to form a bill of no rights. To change the constitution so that the government can constitute the order by which it’s citizens live. Statements like this and others were, and still stand as threatening detrimental to freedom of press rights. Populist leaders often attack forms of media, claiming they are illegitimate as an industry so as to bolster and reinforce the grip his administration has on society. If Orban gets full control of the media, he and his government will be able to control every aspect of information that is reported on their nation. This could be threatening to the world as a whole. With unreliable reports to the united nations it will be hard to determine whether they are following protocol and therefore impossible to enforce, not just with them but with other countries in the united nations.
In essentiality arguments lead to innovation; politically, economically, and socially. Polarization is good for fueling the debate that moves change in a democratic system. Obran looks to limit the amount of polarization in his country by controlling the political climate through manipulation of their political system. He does this by inciting passionate voter followings, through radical conservative ideals. Normally, by choosing opposing stances political parties can capture voters across the respective conservative liberal spectrum. However bonds always begins to form between small minority groups whose views lay closer to the extremist side of the spectrum, and those who share more moderate views but need additional support to form a winning coalition. When formed in the right wing, which tends to be most cases, they tend to try to make the government relinquish control of states rights and economic freedom through use of populist tactics.
These are the quick spurring movements that are often brought about to surmise some change be made once the change is made the movement is dead. In left wing movements however, we tend to see the opposite. A more oppressive militant government, enforcing new rules and regulations on a populus who may not support the executive. These uprisings tend to turn into long standing authoritarian democracies, or frankenstates. Outwardly they possess the appearance of democracy with a very low level of freedom in regards to appointing government officials or individuals rights.
This is because of the way polarization affects the way people argue across the globe. Certain ideologies are considered undesirable to talk about and therefore on the surface garner very low levels of political traction. This leaves certain demographics vastly underrepresented in the election process. Often however these ideologies that are considered undesirable or what we can refer to as the more extreme levels of leftism and rightism, can still have a strong representative numbers on the spectrum and share adjacent ideologies with surrounding groups that may not be as radical but can work cohesively to garner support that can overpower what can be a more representative majority. Radical voters always vote it’s why they are radicals they are passionate. A large amount of people whose lives were met with little to no change under a more progressive government did not have any incentive to go out and vote.
In Hungary’s case we are observing a populist approach from a former leftist (sound familiar?). A cross combination; a play for longterm control over the state by means of controlling the fluid nature of parliament in a unitary system. Changing out legislators as he pleases to assemble majorities that will help him change the constitution as he sees fit.
The majority party seems like a bully to those in competition and often push other with adjacent ideologies into pacts which can be detrimental to their control over appointments and legislation. Orban’s party used to exist in the minority. In 2002 he began to gain traction with liberal socialist parties that gave way to a coalition that would eventually see him to power. When he came to office again in 2010 he was elected this time with a two thirds majority. Proving too much power for one individual to hold Hungary is slowly slipping into the shadows of the European Union.