The April 12 Wonkblog post “Democracy is dying in Hungary. The rest of the world should worry.” concluded with the odd remark that it’s “funny how putting your country first usually means putting your democracy last.” Consider this:
Voter turnout in Hungary’s April 8 elections reached 70.2 percent, the highest it’s been since 2002 and more than eight points higher than it was in 2014. Voter participation in the U.S. 2016 presidential election was only 55.7 percent, and it was even lower in 2012. Democracy is alive and well in Hungary.
Unemployment today is at 3.8 percent, down from its 2009 level of 11.9 percent. Growth in gross domestic product reached 4.4 percent in 2017, compared with minus 7.9 percent in 2009. Real wages have grown by 44 percent since 2014, and we introduced the lowest corporate tax in the European Union at 9 percent, which has stimulated investment. Voters like those things.
The post said Hungary’s ruling party “was just able to capture the two-thirds supermajority it needed to rule unimpeded with only 48 percent of the vote.” But Tony Blair and Britain’s Labour Party won the 1997 elections with 43 percent of the popular vote but took 64 percent of the seats in Parliament. Former U.S. president Barack Obama was elected in 2008 with 53 percent of the vote, but he won 67 percent of the electoral college. That’s the way it works in majoritarian electoral systems.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won again by a landslide precisely because the voters want their government to put the country first.
Zoltán Kovács, Washington
The writer is the Hungarian government spokesperson.