The Wall Street Journal: The Descent of Hungary

How much can the European Union, by law a club of democracies, actually do to stop a freely elected government within its borders from turning its democracy into an autocracy? […]

This is the real tragedy of Hungary—that economic peril has caused the country’s politics to curdle into chauvinism and score-settling. Fidesz supporters describe Mr. Orban’s legislative program as a belated rebalancing after communism. The Socialists, privileged with business and institutional connections inherited from the Kadar era, made government corrupt and ineffective. Only a wholesale tightening could restore efficacy.

But Fidesz’s ties to its own cast of oligarchs raise more than a few red flags. And some of Fidesz’s recent incursions into Hungarian political life seem impelled not by reorganization, but by retribution. […]

Mr. Orban is a Machiavellian, in other words, but one with no greater designs on Hungary than to remain the person who steers it. […]