The Dictator’s Bog-Standard M.O.

It is by now patently obvious that the refugee “crisis” that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has artificially and systematically created had 3 goals:

(1) to divert attention from Orbán’s many mounting corruption scandals,

(2) to re-assert and reinforce Orbán’s populistic self-image as the nation’s protector against the invasion of the Turks and the exploitation by the EU and

(3) to provide a pretext for introducing police-state legislation for enhancing Orbán’s dictatorial powers.

The bonus of the new emergency right to break into the homes of people suspected of giving refuge to refugees (sic!) is that Orbán will now at last gain the legal right to break into the home of his arch-enemy, the former prime-minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány, whom he had ousted through dirty tricks and character assassination and who is now giving refuge to the refugees: perhaps Orbán will even be able to do what he has so long tried, so far unsuccessfully, to do, which is to find a legal pretext for imprisoning Gyurcsány.

Source: Zsolt Szigetváry / MTI.

Source: Zsolt Szigetváry / MTI.

This is the standard M.O. of psychopathic dictators, if they are not stopped by concerted resistance from normal, decent people.

I don’t equate Hungary with the Hungarian government or the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church*:

Hungary is a population of 10 million people, normally distributed.

But if you subtract from that the Fidesz supporters, the Jobbik supporters and the Catholic Church, how many people do you have left?

Only if it is 2/3x (10 million) can Orbán be ousted and decency restored (unless Orbán has already gerrymandered the electoral districts and rigged the enfranchisement of foreign nationals so much that even 2/3 is no longer enough…)

Stevan Harnad

Stevan Harnad is Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Sciences at Université du Québec à Montréal; Professor of Electronics and Computer Science at University of Southampton, UK; External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter.

*Hungarian Catholic Cardinal Péter Erdő raised eyebrows when he callously warned Catholic parishes and individual Roman Catholics from assisting the refugees, so as not to run the risk of being found guilty of aiding human traffickers. In stark contrast, Pope Francis has called upon Catholic churches everywhere to open their doors to refugees.


  1. Avatar Pierre Divenyi says:

    Great article, Istvan!
    Concerning the cardinal, my hope is that Pope Francis will have a head-to-head talk with him after which the cardinal’s purple head dress will be removed. Erdo’s behavior and words remind me of the Catholic Church’s official stand and silence in response to nazism over WW II, especially during the last stages when the deportations to Auschwitz took place. But there is one Hungarian bishop, Miklos Beer, who has been serving the people (including Romas), rather than the government, and who has also opened the doors of his churches and houses to the refugees.

  2. Kim Lane Scheppele’s article (in press) on Orban’s September 15 Police-State Legislation Plans



    “The Hungarian government’s disregard for the rights of refugees in EU law presages its disregard for the rights of its own citizens in the coming surveillance state. Over the last five years, the Hungarian government has eliminated all checks on its power and now it is using the refugee crisis to usher in a police state.

    “While EU institutions have looked on, horrified but paralyzed, Prime Minister Orbán has created a dictatorship in Hungary. In plain sight, the Hungarian government is shredding the values of democracy, human rights and rule of law, values on which the European Union was built. As a state of emergency looms in Hungary, now is the time to invoke Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, quarantining Hungary by removing its voting rights in EU matters. It’s the least the EU can do to show solidarity not only with refugees – but also with the EU citizens of Hungary.”

  3. The EU not only doesn’t show solidarity of any kind, it is subsidizing Orban’s regime. The very same EU, that made it a pre-condition of the Greek bailout, to have the right to veto decisions by the Greek government and parlament and bullied Greece for the referendum on the bailout deal is not able to or rather not willing to take meaures against the totalitarian policies of Orban’s regime. They – especially Merkel’s Germany which has extensive economic interests in Hungary and profits form the anti-social, anti-worker policies of Orban – rather use him as a gendarm to keep refugees away from Western-Europe ( even despite the fact that some – rather weak – critical voices can be heard in the West ). The age of post-WWII. consesus on human-rights and democratic values, on which the EU was built is apparently over in the new reactionary era of the 21st. century.

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