Europe: Hungarian Black Sheep

Yesterday the MEPs adopted by 433 votes a very harsh anti-Hungary report, concluding that this country is no longer a democracy, but an electoral autocracy.

This report weakens the position of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. However, Hungary is a source of inspiration for many far-right parties in Europe. It is also the spearhead of Chinese and Russian influence in the European Union. That is why EU governments are increasingly seeking to neutralize Orbán and return Hungary to a democratic path.

1. Who is Viktor Urban?

Viktor Orban became prime minister for the first time in 1998, at the age of 35. Then he brought his country to NATO. After his defeat in the 2002 elections, he spent a few years in the opposition and became prime minister again in 2010. From this moment on, his policies began to take a dictatorial turn. In the same year, he passed a law that gave him significant control over the media. In 2011, he changed the constitution by incorporating very right-wing policies, such as restricting the right to strike. In 2013, he passed several undemocratic laws, including unlimited pretrial detention. In subsequent years, he strengthened the government’s role in the economy and placed loyal supporters at the head of all important Hungarian organizations.

2. What is Orban’s policy towards illegal immigrants?

Orbán’s policy toward illegal immigrants is much harsher than that of most European countries, which has earned him strong hostility from the pro-immigrant European left. In 2015, he erected a barrier between Hungary and Serbia, while allowing the military to fire rubber bullets at illegal immigrants. Orbán believes that Muslims are a danger to European civilization. He even said this summer that he did not want Hungarians to become a “mixed race” with non-Europeans, which earned him accusations of racism.

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3. What are Urban’s relations with China and Russia?

Although fiercely anti-communist, Orbán called on China to open a university campus in the Hungarian capital, which poses serious espionage problems for all European research. Orbán also wants to attract Chinese capital to Hungary. Moreover, Orban began approaching Vladimir Putin in 2010 to ensure the supply of cheap gas to Hungary. In addition, Russian energy made Hungary independent of sources that could come from Muslim countries. Both Putin and Orban believe that European civilization should be based on Christianity.

4. What can the European Parliament do?

The European Parliament can withhold part of the money that must be paid to it through the European Union. In the current inflationary context, this will hurt Hungary and Orbán hard.

5. What is Urban’s response?

Orban is trying to persuade EU countries to give him time, in particular to set up a commission to fight corruption. Orbán could also make the justice system more independent and straighten out the electoral system. But it is doubtful that he will back down from policies that he considers linked to defending Christian values.

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