Hungary: Viktor goes to war

THE new year has not started well for Viktor Orban, Hungary’s pugnacious prime minister. Support for his ruling right-wing Fidesz party is sliding. A recent poll by Median showed a drop from 38% to 26%, representing a loss of some 900,000 voters. Mr Orban’s personal popularity plummeted by 16 percentage points. Other pollsters find similar results.The immediate cause for the discontent was a planned internet tax, which was hastily withdrawn after a demonstration in late October brought tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets of Budapest. Yet instead of placating angry Hungarians, the government’s retreat—the first of any significance since its most recent landslide election victory in April 2014—seems to have galvanised them. Their growing anger has deep roots.Stories about the luxuries and fancy properties enjoyed by some government ministers and their friends, even as poverty is rising, are causing fissures within Fidesz. Zoltan Pokorni, a former party president and education minister, who is now a district mayor in Budapest, called for an end to the “flamboyant lifestyles” of government members and “leading politicians”. Mr Pokorni was slapped down by Janos Lazar, Mr Orban’s chief of staff, but his remark was given wide publicity.Concern is also growing within Fidesz that a row with the Americans may develop into a full-blown diplomatic crisis. Six Hungarian…

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