By moving to the far right, did Orbán create space in the political centre for an adversary?

Hungary sealed its border with Serbia on 15 September. Since then refugees can only enter legally at two ”entry points”. If they force their entry by scaling the fence along the border, they commit a crime – based on a new Law in force also as of 15 September, and this automatically disqualifies them from receiving asylum. Those who manage to enter the heavenly entry point should not expect too much either, as Serbia has been declared a safe country by the Hungarian government (Hungary is the only EU country that considers Serbia safe.). According to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee:

  • The amendment to the Asylum Act obliges the Office of Immigration and Nationality (OIN) to reject as inadmissible all asylum claims lodged by applicants who came through a safe third country, since the applicant “could have applied for effective protection there”. As over 99% of asylum-seekers enter Hungary at the Serbian-Hungarian border section, this will mean the quasi-automatic rejection at first glance of over 99% of asylum claims, without any consideration of protection needs.

We have been writing about this here.

Hungary has quickly announced that it will erect fences along parts of its borders with Romania and Croatia too.

The Orbán show is in full swing. We should, however, not forget that the primary target of the show is the domestic electorate. Refugees trying to push through the closed gates of Schengen, policemen using teargas and water canons, and EU officials, etc. are only pawns in this game of Orbán’s. The goal of the show is twofold: divert attention from massive corruption scandals and the incompetence of the government and to prevent far-right Jobbik party to capitalize on the refugee crisis. So far, Orbán seems to be successful in both although no reliable research has been published that could confirm this.

We like to toy with the idea that with Fidesz de-facto becoming Jobbik, Orbán has, by accident, opened up opportunities for credible left wing or conservative-liberal political forces to occupy centre ground. So far, the current political opposition has not managed to present viable alternatives. But all hope is not lost. The huge response of volunteers to donate money, goods, food and their time to help the refugees so badly neglected by the government shows that many Hungarians do care for those in need, and do not believe that throwing the dirt in someone else’s garden would be the way to solve problems. These people and organizations might become the nuclei of a new, likeable Hungary.

We hope we are not only dreaming.

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