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Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Newsmax's Gizzi Cheers Orban's Re-Election, Hides How He Rigged It
Topic: Newsmax

John Gizzi gushed over an authoritarian's re-election in an April 4 Newsmax article:

As the Biden White House and the European Union no doubt looked forlorn, near-final results from Hungary showed Monday morning that Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his conservative Fidesz Party scored a resounding 53 percent of the vote in national elections.

The vote is even more reassuring because of the significant opposition Orban has faced from within and outside of Hungary.

Both the strong economy and what supporters call Orban's "sensible conservatism" — policies that increased the birth rate and kept Hungary neutral in the Russo-Ukraine War — were key to the big win by Fidesz.

Hungarian sources told Newsmax that Orban's conservative agenda has meant a strong economy, and he translated that into a big win in parliament.

The election result means Orban will hold a record fourth consecutive term as prime minister — with 135 seats for Fidesz and the six-party opposition alliance only 56 seats.

So crushing was the victory by Fidesz that opposition leader Peter Marki-Zay lost his own district where he had been a popular mayor.

Gizzi omitted one big reason why Orban won -- his years in power allowed him to rig the election to undercut his oppostion. The Washington Post reported:

Hungary’s electoral playing field is heavily tilted against the opposition. In 2010, Orban amended the Constitution to cut the size of the parliament in about half, after which he gerrymandered the entire country. The districts, drawn with no input from the opposition, spread Fidesz voters across many small districts in rural areas while concentrating opposition voters in much larger districts in the cities, thus giving them fewer chances to win.

After this redistricting, in 2014, Orban’s party won 45 percent of the vote — but 91 percent of the districts (under Hungary’s electoral system, 106 of the seats are awarded through single-member districts, while the other 93 are awarded through a nationwide electoral list). Similarly, in 2018, Fidesz won 48 percent of the vote and 86 percent of the districts. On election night 2022, with 98 percent of the vote counted, Orban won 53 percent of the vote but 83 percent of the districts. The absentee voters are divided between liberal expats who oppose Orban and conservative Hungarians in neighboring countries who are likely to support him in larger numbers.


Facing a united opposition, Orban then changed the rules again to wrong-foot them. A November law introduced “voter tourism,” allowing any Hungarian citizen to legally register to vote in any district. Before the election, evidence surfaced that voters were being strategically moved into districts that might otherwise be close, with hundreds of voters registered at single residences. On Election Day, monitors documented minibuses delivering clusters of voters to polls.

Beyond rule-rigging, Orban so dominates the broadcast and print media landscape that the opposition could hardly get its message out.

In addition, Fidesz spent almost 10 times more than the opposition on billboards, overshooting legal campaign finance limits on billboards alone. But Fidesz has repeatedly escaped enforcement of campaign finance rules because it controls the office that enforces them, while other parties have been fined nearly out of existence.

Hiding Orban's obvious election fraud and rigging is ironic given how Newsmax has enthusiastically promoted Donald Trump's discredited election-fraud claims.

Gizzi also touted Orban's allegedly neutral stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine:

Despite the international media repeatedly dubbing Orban a "Putin Ally" and citing his convivial relationship with the Russian president, Hungarian voters apparently liked their prime minister's policy of neutrality toward Russia and Ukraine.

Hungary has criticized the invasion and taken in refugees, but has not offered to assist Ukraine's military resistance.

Despite repeated urging from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to send arms and impose sanctions on Russia, Orban has refused.

But as CNN reported, Orban has long been close to Vladimir Putin -- to the point that Putin congratulated Orban on his victory -- and much of Hungary's energy comes from Russia; in his victory speech, Orban called Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky one of the "opponents" he had to overcome during the campaign.

Gizzi further gushed that Orban's "pro-family policy," in which "mothers who have four children are exempt from federal income taxes for life," has resulted in "an increase in the fertility rate of 24% in the last decade," according to Minister of Families Katalin Novak, who was elected "Hungary's first woman president" in the election.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:29 AM EDT

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