In the summer, the US government sent to Hungary a good friend of President Trump as the new ambassador, David B. Cornstein. His self-proclaimed priority was to save CEU. He failed. Unfortunately, in the eyes of liberty-loving Hungarians, this is a failure of the United States and of America’s leadership.
Viktor Orbán gave his traditional annual speech, underling the need to strengthen Christianity, building Christian democracy in Hungary, while fighting liberalism. Christian Democrats surely cringe upon hearing this line of thought, leaving us all to wonder what an illiberal Christian democracy ought to look like.
We have reached the end of a three-year-long war in the media waged against Hír TV – the biggest anti-government television broadcaster in Hungary. The main battle took place between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and oligarch Lajos Simicska, the owner of Hír TV, right before the TV conglomerate was conquered.
Republikon Institute organized a conference during which political analysts, activists, and representatives of Hungarian opposition parties discussed what to expect after the April elections.
Since the beginning of 2015 Viktor Orbán’s right-wing populist Fidesz government has produced one hate campaign after another, targeting migrants, the EU (or rather, “Brussels”), American financier George Soros and institutions connected to him, and even the UN.
When facing illiberal regimes, a stream of victories by populists and a seemingly unstoppable retreat of liberal democracy, should we also simply adept to the new reality and “make our peace”? I would argue that this is the strategy many people have been pursuing in Hungary.
Viktor Orbán’s right-wing populist Fidesz party won a third consecutive term in office with a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliamentary election of April 2018. Orbán is known for building an “illiberal state”, which he officially announced in the summer of 2014.
Those who want to stop populists need to learn how to plan strategically, set aside fantasies, and see the cold reality. They need to be proactive rather than reactive, preventively tackling the propaganda of the populists. Only when the strategic goals are achieved, should they feel good about themselves.
With the election of Donald Trump for president of the United States, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for a moment thought he found a kindred spirit. What went wrong and what needs to be done to improve the U.S.-Hungarian relations?