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Why conservatives around the world Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Have hugged

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Why conservatives around the world Hungary's Viktor Orbán. have hugged

Since his second term as Hungarian Prime Minister in 2010, Viktor Orbán has tinkered with the country’s democratic systems. As a proponent of what he calls an “illiberal” form of government, Orbán has imposed policies hostile to LGBTQ people and immigrants, and has steadily increased his control over the public space in Hungary by opposing the press, the academy and the judiciary takes precedence. But the end of his term of office could be near: Orbán is up for discussion in 2022, and a coalition of six opposition parties from left to right has formed to defeat him.

Still, Orbán has become a hero for conservatives across Europe over the past decade, and has also piqued the interest of the American right. Tucker Carlson, a conservative columnist from the United States, visited Hungary last week and praised Orban’s Prime Minister as someone that the West could take lessons. On Sunday, Conservative columnist Ross Douthat explained some of Orbán’s appeal in the Times. Douthat said, “It’s more than his anti-immigration position or his moral traditionalism.” “His interference with Hungarian cultural life and attacks on liberal academic centres, as well as the spending on conservative ideologies projects, are all examples of how political power can limit the influence of progressivism.”

Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton professor of sociology and an expert on Hungarian politics as well as constitutional law, was my telephone conversation. Scheppele met Orbán in the early 1990s when she was working as a researcher at the Hungarian Constitutional Court and he was an aspiring center-right politician. In our conversation, which was cut to length and clarity, we talked about why Orbán has become a role model for conservatives around the world, how he could remain powerful in Hungary even after he left office and what, according to Scheppele, makes him “the ultimate Dictator of the 21st century. “

Orbán is often quoted as an advocate of “illiberal democracy,”However, you claimed that it was a mistranslation in a scholarly piece you published some years back. What do you think that he actually said? What does it tell us about the style of his rulemaking?

In the speech in which Orbán claimed to want an illiberal state, he also spoke of what he calls a force field of power. Orban told his supporters that he hopes Hungary will eliminate political debate by creating a force field for power. This meant: Let’s stop arguing over political matters and let’s get things done. Because I know what to say, it is pointless to consider different points of view. He said that he wanted to end democratic, normal political debates in his speech. And that’s exactly what he did when he became president.

He then changed his mind and used a phrase that was more politically acceptable, after there was such strong opposition to it. It was initially written, “Well, we are an illiberal state because we marginalized the Liberals.”It was almost as if he had a comrade. “owned the Libs”In the United States, he called his opponents Liberals and he was considered an illiberal. This didn’t go down very well in Europe, so he came up with the phrase that Christian Democrats were illiberal for their opposition to liberal political views. If the liberal is multiculturalism then illiberalism would be Hungary for the Hungarians.

He said that he supported “Christian democracy”, which he interprets as something that is anti-immigrant and illiberal. Can you please talk about how crucial the Christian part is? The term “Christian Democrat”, which we’ve heard in Europe for many decades, also refers to a centre-right politician who is committed towards European democracy. What makes that different?

Yes, he did invent the formula when the European People’s Party (to which Angela Merkel’s is a member) spoke out against him because he was about to become a dictator. He accepted this form. He then quit the party, before they could kick him out. This is the one thing that allowed him to be a part of European politics. But for Orbán himself it is a very strange thing to argue about Christian Democracy.

He has never been seen in a church. He is not religious. It’s almost like Trump who has never seen a church. Around two-thirds of Hungary’s Christians belong to the Catholic faith, and one third to Calvinists. The country still has a Jewish community despite having exterminated most of its Jewish population during World War II. Unfortunately, they don’t count them in the census. Orbán’s family was Calvinist. Orban is a member of a minority religion. Yet, he refers to Catholicism in his comments on Christian democracy and Hungary.

Hungarians are generally not religious. A poll that I was able to see showed that nine percent of Hungarians regularly attend church services. Part of this was due to the fact that communism has wiped out religion from the social fabric for fifty years. Hungarians can be ironic and skeptical too. Even if one goes back to medieval Hungary there are many, shall I say, deviations form the official church norms. So it is very strange that Orbán should claim that he represents the Hungarian people because he is such a good Christian.

Also, why does he do it?

He uses a lot of rhetoric that is reminiscent the interwar period in the last century. Hungary achieved independence in a very small form of its historical self after World War I. Hungarians were able to concentrate in the area that became Hungary today, which meant that two-thirds (or more) of traditional Hungarian territory was lost to other countries. Miklós Horthy appeared in this interwar period with the claim to recapture these areas and these peoples, and ruled as regent in the name of St. Stephen’s Crown, because according to medieval law the crown stood for this territory which all Hungarians claimed. Horthy claimed that the Hungarian symbol of sovereignty was the crown the Pope bestowed on Hungary’s first Christian king.

When Orbán was Prime Minister for the first time from 1998 to 2002, he carried the St. Stephen’s Crown from the National Museum to Parliament. The crown was wrapped around him like the flag is around American presidents. It will also be familiar to those who were there during the interwar period when Hungary’s fury at the treatment by the international community was expressed in this increased Christian symbolism. If Orbán does this now, every Hungarian will understand that he is following in Horthy’s footsteps. Horthy fought alongside Nazi Germany in World War II. This man ruled alongside the Hungarian Nazi party. This man was responsible for the deportation to Auschwitz of Hungarian Jews. That’s the part that every Hungarian can understand.

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