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Prime Minister Orban addresses supporters in Budapest after the announcement of partial election results on April 8, 2018. Photo: Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party scored a resounding victory in yesterday's parliamentary elections, unexpectedly securing a two-thirds mandate for the third time in a row.

Why it matters: Since Orbán came to power in 2010, Hungary has moved progressively toward authoritarian rule. The high turnout (70%) and decisive victory will embolden his party to commandeer the remaining independent branches of government — the judiciary and local municipalities — and to further suppress civic opposition.

After its large electoral margin, Fidesz faces no major obstacles in remolding Hungary into a society ruled by clientelism, deference and fear. On the night of the election, governmental spokesperson Zoltán Kovács told reporters that legislation to allow the secret services to spy on critics will move forward and confirmed the government’s intention to close down NGOs that meddle in domestic politics.

Fidesz's victory will also energize authoritarian and nationalist politicians across Europe, further threatening the preservation of democracy on the continent. Politicians in Poland will be particularly pleased to have Orbán on their side amid an ongoing battle with the European Commission over fundamental rights.

What's next: Hungary's political opposition is in tatters. Its leading figures have been weakened by the electoral fiasco in which the main opposition parties — the far-right Jobbik, the Socialist Party, the Democratic Coalition and the green Politics Can Be Different Party — received 250,000 fewer combined votes than Fidesz alone (2.34 million vs. 2.6 million). In parliament, these forces will be powerless in the face of the Fidesz supermajority, while Fidesz's grip on the media limits the opposition's visibility, especially in the rural provinces where elections are won and lost.

Kristóf Szombati is the Istvan Deak Visiting Professor of Political Science at Columbia University.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.