Spiegel’s “one-party state” comment destroys its credibility as independent media

The sweeping April 8th victory of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the governing parties in Hungary’s parliamentary elections came as a surprise to many and not only the political opposition. Among those grieving the loss, we find not only opposition candidates but many who otherwise present themselves as impartial – like members of the international press corps.

We have a particularly stellar example from a certain German newspaper that has seen better days. Der Spiegel, in its post-election coverage, concluded that Hungary is “once again a one-party state” like it was under Soviet Communist rule “before 1989.”

If the journalists at Spiegel were wondering what it’s like to live under one-party rule, they could have simply asked their fellow citizens who suffered in the so-called German Democratic Republic. Despite the name, it was not democratic, not a republic and, like the rest of Eastern Europe, was governed by oppressive, communist internationalism.

Before 1989, people could vote for only one party in elections. That’s why they were called one-party states. Those groups that would have contested the elections were systematically oppressed and denied from doing so.

That’s a far cry from what we and the other young democracies of central and eastern Europe enjoy today.

In 2018, Hungary’s nationwide ballot listed 23 parties or party alliances. Each of them received significant support from the state for the campaign.

Out of those, five parties or alliances passed the threshold by winning more than five percent of the vote to form a parliamentary group. In addition, the national assembly has a representative of a national minority, an independent representative and one representative whose party (Együtt) did not get into Parliament but who nevertheless won his district. These politicians represent not one but at least eight different political groups, which makes the next parliament one of the most colorful we’ve seen since the change of the regime in 1989.

The opposition has been holding demonstrations in Budapest, and apparently, they plan on continuing — something impossible to imagine before 1989.

The nonsense poured forth by Der Spiegel and others reveals more than just a lack of knowledge or sloppy journalism. It exposes once again how biased these media outlets have become, the degree to which they’ve lost their perspective and sound judgment. Perhaps that’s why they’re upset the Hungarian voters voted the way they did and why they’ve lost their common sense.

In any case, journalists like these no longer deserve to be regarded as independent media.