Princeton University professor Kim Lane Scheppele gave an interview to HVG. According to her the Hungarian left has fallen apart, but Jobbik is capable of curbing Fidesz’s power even without the left.“In Hungary the democratic opposition is disorganised, fragmented, and it’s rumoured that some socialist politicians are in Viktor Orban’s pocket”, Kim Lane Scheppele told HVG. She added that the strongest anti-Fidesz party is currently Jobbik, and since Viktor Orban’s former friend, businessman Lajos Simicska came over to their side, the party has many insider information about how Fidesz works.
Jobbik can have a majority?
According to the Princeton University’s professor the electoral system developed by Orban in 2014 can even help Jobbik, because the system was redrawn to undermine the fragmented left side, but Jobbik is unified, contrary to the left in rural constituencies.
Kim Lane Scheppele told HVG she thinks that in the countryside, Jobbik is the party which acts as a unified block, and can have a simple majority against Fidesz in many constituencies.
“I think that already in 2014, Jobbik had performed better than its results, because there were suspicious results in several places where they had been expected to have more votes,”
The professor stated that in this electoral system the left can win alone, but Jobbik is able to curb Fidesz’s power even without the left.
“The current rules can help Jobbik to have the majority of mandates in the parliament,”
Fidesz vs. Jobbik
Kim Lane Scheppele mentioned that the aim of the State Audit Office investigation (also covered here on Hungary Journal) for Fidesz is to “make Jobbik go bankrupt” and to cement its own election victory.
“It expects that neither the Hungarian left, nor the European public will really mind if Jobbik disappears. But I think that those who want to restore the rule of law in Hungary should be worried about any manipulation of the rules. I’m not a supporter of Jobbik, but such attack against the opposition party with the most changes to win cannot be allowed in any constitutional system”
the professor said.
According to Kim Lane Scheppele there’s another tool for Fidesz to undermine Jobbik.
“A party can still be dissolved if its programmed is deemed unconstitutional,” she pointed out. Fidesz can still use this possibility, if the State Audit Office fails.
Kim Lane Scheppele discussed that former socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany is a bogeyman not only for Fidesz, but for many on the left side too. Though she finds Gyurcsany very gifted and charismatic, he alienated so many people on the left side that he can’t be a prime ministerial candidate based on consensus.
Hungary is not a free country anymore?
When asked about her last visit to Hungary, she said that she was in Hungary for a conference in March this year, but her arrival was accompanied by inconvenient incidents. She claimed that five police officers were waiting for her at the airport.
“When I walked past them they followed me, surrounded me when I was waiting for my luggage, but didn’t say anything. They have been watching until I left the luggage area,”
she told HVG.
The professor said she nothing to be afraid of, but she’s worried for the people she’s meeting in Hungary. Many of her friends are aware of the Hungarian government’s surveillance of them.
“They know that Hungary is not a free country anymore, any many have memories from the Kadar-era, when the situation was similar”, she added.
She got to know the “dangerous man”
She met Viktor Orban in the summer of 1994 for the first time, spent with him three days in Ukraine and thinks that this was the time when Fidesz distanced itself from liberalism. After returning home, Kim Lane Scheppele told her friends that she got to know “the most dangerous man she has ever met”.
According to the Princeton University’s professor Orban shouldn’t be underestimated: “he’s a very unusual political phenomeon and absolutely ruthless”.
Kim Lane Scheppele is the Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, as well as the Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs, at Princeton University, and also a Faculty Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She has been a fierce critic of the Orban government since 2010. She has called its actions as creating an “unconstitutional constitution,”, and that Hungarian democracy is in jeopardy. Scheppele testified in the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe’s hearing on “The Trajectory of Democracy – Why Hungary Matters” in 2013.