Dark Christmas portends hard times for a prosperous city in Hungary | Popgen Tech
Skeptical that the reason for this was a Europe-wide energy crisis, he told Fidesz and the city’s mayor, Mr. Dezsi, an eccentric, parrot-loving cardiologist who took over after the previous mayor, Zsolt Borkai, also of Fidesz, became entangled. in a sex scandal and resigned in 2019.
The scandal did little to dent the city’s overwhelming support for Fidesz, in part because it was largely ignored by Hungarian media loyal to Mr. Orban is. Bad economic news has been similarly glossed over, presented as “fake news” floated by political opponents, or blamed on European sanctions against Russia.
To rally the public behind his narrative, not unlike that of the Kremlin, Mr. Orban’s government now what he calls a “national consultation” – a vote on a series of leading questions intended to show that “sanctions are destroying the economies of Europe.”
The European Union has imposed no sanctions on Russian natural gas, and Russia’s energy giant, Gazprom, has itself driven up the price by cutting supplies to many customers. Hungary, which sent its foreign minister to Moscow this summer to plead with Russia to keep gas flowing, has not been hit by these cuts but still has to pay more because the price Gazprom charges is largely determined by market rates.
“The power and effect of propaganda is enormous,” said Bulcsu Hunyadi, a senior analyst at Political Capital, a Budapest research group that is often critical of Mr. Orban. Hungary, he said, has created a system of “information autocracy” that allows the government to “create an alternative reality.”
A recent Political Capital study found that a majority of Hungarians think that sanctions against Ukraine have hurt Europe more than Russia and that half of Fidesz voters believe that Hungary has not endorsed them. In fact, Hungary has voted for each of nine sets of EU sanctions since February, including a new round announced in Brussels on Thursday by Mr. Orban and other leaders have been approved.