Orban Gets Two Thirds of the Way to Illiberalsville

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose “illiberal” political project we told you about last week, achieved a resounding victory over the weekend, with his Fidesz party winning a two-thirds supermajority in parliamentary elections.


That two-thirds threshold is critical, because it means that Orban is now in a position to make changes to Hungary’s constitution that could pitch the country more decisively in an authoritarian direction. Expect to see changes to assert more control over the courts and civil society.

All of this means that Budapest and Brussels are set for a big showdown sooner rather than later. Orban has already refused to comply with EU policies on accepting a small number of humanitarian refugees from North Africa and Syria. His constitutional changes will clash more openly with EU rule of law and civil society norms.

What’s Brussels to do? Nothing is one option. But that would undermine the authority of EU rules that every member state willingly signed up for when they joined the union. Brussels can, instead, propose internal sanctions on Budapest that would suspend voting rights and other privileges — but those require unanimity among all EU member states which Poland’s government, which is ideologically aligned with Orban’s, would scuttle.

There is, of course, the prospect of the EU cutting its lavish funding for Hungary. That money has helped to fuel the country’s recent economic boom and enabled Orban to throw money at important rural constituencies. Whether such action would chasten or inflame Mr. Orban’s illiberal impulses is a critical open question for Europe.

How much material do we use to send a package? Too much. Does recycling help? Yes – but not really. Packaging material often accumulates as waste, contributing to its own "polluting weight." To solve our packaging dilemma, Finland came up with RePack: a "circular" solution for the reuse of material.

Learn more about RePack in Eni's new Energy Superfacts series.

Anyone with a pulse and a smartphone probably knows by now that the US-China rivalry is heating up these days, and fast. (If you know anyone who doesn't, get them a Signal subscription.)

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The region's troubles have also captured the attention of European leaders, who worry that if instability there continues, it could generate a movement of migrants that might well dwarf the EU refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

But is Europe helping to make things better?

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Ian Bremmer's QuickTake:

It's Monday, coronavirus still going on. Plenty to talk about.

I mean, I guess the biggest news in the United States is the fact that we still don't have any stimulus going forward. I mean, now, keep in mind, this is on the back of an exceptionally strong initial US economic response, over 10% of GDP, ensuring relief for small businesses, for big corporations, and most importantly, for everyday American citizens, many of whom, large double digit numbers, lost their jobs, a lot of whom lost them permanently but didn't have to worry, at least in the near term, because they were getting cash from the government. Is that going to continue?

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