Know Your Dictators 2

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at the EU summit in Brussels

Hungary

Viktor Orbán

These are notes taken from Paul Lendval writing in The Atlantic.

Timeline

1989

Orbán was a young man, unshaven with long hair (26 years old)

Fidesz – He was a member of this youth group. He gave a 6 ½ minute speech calling for free elections and withdrawal of soviet troops.

Instant fame.

1992

By the age of 30 he was in control of Fidesz

1994

Moved his party (Fidesz) to the right

1998

Fidesz won the election and Orbán became the youngest PM in the history of Hungary.

1998-2002

Prime Minister of Hungary

2010 – present

Prime Minister again and expected to win on April 8th(Lendval’s article was written on April 7th, the day before the election. Orbán won the election.

Ideology

Orbán began as a liberal, a “fiery left-wing atheist”. He was very poor as a child. He worked with the Soros Foundation and even took his family to Oxford under Soros Foundation sponsorship but he returned to Hungary after only 4 months in England.

Now Orbán is a right-wing populist leader.

Ethnic Nationalism and Deep-rooted Corruption mark his rule in Hungary, a return to past practice.

Orbán is busy now “concentrating power, eliminating constitutional safeguards, reshaping the state in his image (?), and posing a potential threat to even the future of the EU.”

Orbán is now a multimillionaire.

He wants Hungary to be a Christian nation (true, but also a message to the people of Hungary about how he will treat the issue of migrants and refugees from Syria who are usually not Christians)

He calls his own brand of government “illiberal democracy”.

Fidesz explores the “national question” – there is still much “bitterness” about the unnatural divisions of the people of Hungary caused by a post WW I treaty. Many nurse feelings of “national humiliation”.

Orbán runs on “faith in the homeland and Christian values” (know your peeps)

Policy

Orbán has filled state power positions with loyal supporters.

He uses Immigration as a “wedge issue”, with the migrant and refugee crisis at its highest point.

Orbán built a fence (wall) – a 110 mile fence on the border with Serbia and another fence on the border with Croatia. He exploits both the “victim myth” from that post WW I treaty and the “will to survive”.

“Even critics of the government’s harsh treatment of asylum seekers admitted that Orbán saw earlier than most of his EU colleagues that borders had to be controlled before a relocation plan for migrants could be agree upon.”

“[He] won back support by weaponizing the immigration issue.”

76% of the people of Hungary thought refugees would increase the likelihood of terrorism.

82% believed refugees too jobs and social benefits, creating a social burden.

Implications

Orbán has been influencing other post-communist states to join a nationalistic group which so far includes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

“…to quote the chairman of the European Stability Initiative think tank, Gerald Knaus, [he is] the most dangerous man in the European Union.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/viktor-Orbán-hungary/557246/

The following information is from an article in the New York Times by Patrick Kingsley on May 1, 2018.

“After Viktor Orbán’s Victory, Hungary’s Judges Start to Tumble”

Courts

A “flurry of judges began resigning in quick succession.”

“[O]ne of Mr. Orbán’s oldest friends and allies, Tunde Hando, has systematically packed the courts with loyalists in her role as chief of the judiciary for the past six years.”

Orbán is facing discipline “under a process known as the Article 7 procedure.

Censure could affect “the thinking of investors,” says Knaus.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/world/europe/hungary-viktor-Orbán-judges.html

 

 

 

Know Your Dictators

jaroslaw-kaczynski_big Super Express

This is the first in a series of articles I call, “Know Your Dictator”.

Poland

Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS – Law and Justice Party is the man making the moves in Poland.

A commenter on quora.com– Piotr Szafranski – calls him a “dictator-in-waiting”.

“Much of the difference between authoritarian and liberal democratic in the political system is based on tradition and custom, not hard law,” says Piotr.

He tells us that the PiS has been throwing out tradition and common decency whenever possible.

Civil Service

  1. They abolished the law prohibiting party membership of career civil servants and fired all the current ones (are loyalty tests next?)
  2. Thousands out of jobs
  3. Jobs will be arbitrarily (without exams) given to PiS’s own party members by way of another new law.

Media

Michal who lives in Poland tells us, “On December 14 the chancellery of the Sejm presented a proposal to change the organization of the media in the Parliament (e.g. creating a modern Media Center, a TV studio in the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish Parliament…”

Michal supports these changes, others see it as an attempt by government to control the message in the media.

https://www.quora.com/Has-Poland-become-a-dictatorship-in-2016

After Trump’s visit in July, 2017 authoritarian moves seem to have accelerated says Oskar Gorzynski in the Daily Beast.

Courts

The government decided the country’s supreme court is corrupt and needed to be purged completely.

(Funny how often this happens as countries’ leaders move towards dictatorship.)

“A bill is introduced that will force all the court’s judges to retire and be replaced – and it is pushed through with lightning speed and without regard for procedures.”

(Is Trump leading up to this?)

Back in Poland,

“the amendment, widely considered unconstitutional and yet to be signed by the president Andrzej Duda (PiS) would give the government virtually unrestrained control over the body – and therefore much of the judicial system.

On the same day “a bill was introduced that amounts to a total purge of all 83 judges in the country’s supreme court, giving Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, a virtually free rein in appointing their successors.”

[Kaczynski] had a meltdown and accused the parliament of killing his brother. Talking to the other party, the PO party, Zaczynski revealed that all those reforms are not really about reforming society or the state,” says a political scientist to the Daily Beast, “every one of PO’s (liberal Modern party) MP’s will end up in jail.” (Lock her up. – different circumstances, same refrain)

Political Prison

PiS MP Krystyna Pawlowicz says she dreams of re-instituting the old pre-war prison for political prisoners called Bereza Kartuska.

She also says that when they finish with the courts they will go after the journalists.

(It often sounds as if wanna-be dictators have a play book.)

Eliminate Constitutional Safeguards and the System of Checks and Balances

This has already been done in Poland, the Daily Beasttells us, when the PiS Party paralyzed the Constitutional Tribunal and then took it over.

“Two words describe what is happening in Poland right now: It’s a “hybrid dictatorship,” says Migalski to the Daily Beast, “We no longer deal with a liberal democracy, but it is not yet a full-fledged dictatorship like that of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey.”

Plans to Make Next Election Impossible to Lose

“Democracy differs from authoritarianism in that the rules of elections are certain, while the outcome is uncertain. In a dictatorship it is the other way around,” says a former PiS politician.

The thorn in Zaczynski’s side may end up being his colleague, President Andrzej Duda.

(Who is the thorn in Trump’s side?)

Citizen protests have been larger than expected.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-trump-set-poland-on-the-path-to-dictatorship

Karolina Wigura, writing in The Guardianin May, 2018 tells us that, “Despite fears over Law and Justice, Poland is not sliding into dictatorship.”

“Poland is not stuck in its current predicament, it is an evolving scene. It’s obvious that Law and Justice has trampled on the constitution, assaulted the independence of the judiciary, and put pressure on women in ways no other government has dared since 1989. But to draw the conclusion that Poland is inexorably sliding into a new brand of authoritarianism is wrong. It misses the nuances and the behind-the-scenes efforts to seek solutions.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/04/law-and-justice-poland-dictatorship

Even as I write this the activities in Poland concerning their possible decisions to leave the EU (or get kicked out) are sending stocks tumbling.

Delving into another country’s politics without historical context has its limitations. However, relying on the analysis of citizens and writers offers good insight.