In a long essay, two writers for the Wall Street Journal lamented the “death” of liberal democracy, and declares Viktor Orban to be its herald:
Welcome to Europe’s new disorder. The U.S. and EU-led alliance in Europe that grew stronger after the Cold War is now splintering. Russia is seizing chances to encourage this fragmentation and regain influence. This time, Moscow’s intellectual currency isn’t Marxism, but an authoritarian style of leadership that sneers at the pieties of liberal democracy.
Russia is finding local partners in Europe’s political rebellions that are challenging a liberal order meant to mark the end of history. These vary in form and strength, from nativist parties in France and Germany, to leftist opponents of EU-backed austerity in Southern Europe. On the continent’s edge, Turkey too is turning its back on the West. Europe’s hard-won unity is fraying.
The writers of this article, either leftists or #NeverTrump Republicans who can no longer be separated from the left, do not understand what liberal democracy really is (or are lying and deceiving the readers, it’s hard to tell with the media a lot of times). They show intense hypocrisy by slamming Orban for doing exactly what he was elected to do.
The European Union is a supranational body. The top ranks of the institution are made of unelected bureaucrats who have a habit of ignoring or sneering down their noses at election results that don’t go their way.
In 2015 the Greeks voted to reject the EU’s austerity policies, and the EU and Greek goverments ignored the outcome.
In 2008, the Irish voted to reject the Lisbon Treaty. This treaty was designed to centralize more political power in the EU at the expense of the national governments. EU ignored the results and simply held another referendum again to pass the treaty. No other country besides Ireland held a referendum.
The British voted for Brexit, but the British and EU governments have done everything they can to block the exit and make any exit as agonizing as possible for Britain. The EU obviously wants to punish Britain and teach its other member states a lesson.
How, then, can Viktor Orban be blamed for “ruining” democracy when the EU is doing this just fine on its own? The actual governing model being endangered by Orban is European socialist democracy, with an emphasis on “socialist.” The writers of this article don’t define what they mean by “liberal democracy,” and I believe that’s very deliberate.
What the article is actually defending is rule by a certain class and group of people, rather than the institutions of democracy itself. Most of this class of people has a deep contempt for the opinions of dirty commoners and they aren’t shy about showing it.
The reaction of Christiane Amanpour in the wake of Brexit is highly illustrative of what the current governing class actually thinks of democracy. In the days following the Brexit vote, the media was flooded with hysterical articles claiming democracy had “failed.”
What’s really happening is that the people are rejecting the current governing class and voting for people outside of this class to try to come in and fix the problems the current governing class has created.
Much of the backlash against the governing class happening in the US and the EU are over two broad problems; the first is immigration and growing crime and social unrest brought on by open borders policies, and the second is the economic sclerosis that has gripped Western democracies in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, and persistent problems with poverty, low or no wage growth, and joblessness.
The elites controlling the US and the EU, by now, understand that the population hates unchecked open borders policies. However, the socialist ideology that is broadly held by these governing classes has taken on religious overtones, and most governments are refusing to budge no matter how much the pressure on them increases because to do so would violate an article of their bizarre religious faith.
I point this out to show how undemocratic the EU and US are in comparison with Hungary. Viktor Orban was elected to do what the EU was refusing to do, and he fulfilled his promises and forced Muslim immigrants out. And he did it easily, just by building a wall. “Liberal democracy” is not “ignoring the will of the voters and heaping contempt upon them” like the writers of this article seem to think.
In his first stint as prime minister, from 1998 to 2002, the Oxford-trained former dissident focused on getting Hungary into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and away from Russia’s orbit.
Mr. Orban began his rise by defying liberal ideas on how to deal with Moscow. Shortly before speaking at a televised 1989 ceremony, opposition figures warned him to stop short of challenging the Soviet troops stationed here. Mr. Orban stood before the crowd and demanded those soldiers go home.
“Orban genuinely believes the West is on the decline, and the best days of the EU and NATO are numbered,” says David Koranyi, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington and a former Hungarian national-security official. “He’s pragmatic enough to keep Hungary in the EU and NATO for now, because the money coming in and the security umbrella still have their value. But he sees the 21st century as the rise of a competing governance model, that of the East.”
Or, as a confidant recalls Mr. Orban once lamenting: “American policy can change every four years.”
Orban is ultimately a democratic nationalist who wants to do what’s best for his country. He resisted the Soviets, and he’s now resisting the EU. Our current governing class needs to understand that the less democratic they become and the more harmful their policies are for those they govern, the more resistance to them will harden.
The more they try to cram their ideology down their unwilling constituents’ throats, the more they will suffer defeats at the ballot box (which is why they are increasingly seeking ways to ignore or get around that ballot box).