Did Viktor Orban Sell His Soul for Power?

As nationalism creeps back into the modern world, Europe’s intense antisemitic, anti-immigration, and anti-LGBT history is finding its way back to the surface. The face of most Hungarian nationalism is the power-hungry Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban. Orban has been the prime minister of Hungary since 2010. He was also Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002. He has also been President of Fidesz, his ruling conservative political party, since 1993. Viktor Orban is known for turning Fidesz from a radical liberal party to a far-right conservative party. According to Orban, “In today’s Europe, it is forbidden to speak the truth. Immigration brings crime and terrorism and endangers our way of life, our culture, our customs, and our Christian traditions”. Viktor Orban has an increasingly nativist and authoritarian government, through which he shows his opposition to minority groups through his autocratic leadership style.

An example of this is his persistence in attacking George Soros. George Soros is a Jewish man born and raised in Hungary. He is an incredibly successful investor and philanthropist and is also the founder of Central European University. He is also sometimes referred to as the “Boogeyman” of the far-right movement. In his efforts to eliminate diversity and democracy from Hungary, Prime Minister Orban forced C.E.U. out of Hungary and into Vienna in late 2019. The university promoted democracy and liberal ideas in a region where those ideas are suppressed by fascism and communism. “Under Viktor Orban’s autocratic rule, no independent institutions are tolerated,” said Kim Lane Scheppele, a professor of international affairs and sociology at Princeton. “So it was only a matter of time before Orban’s attention turned to C.E.U.”. Mr. Orban is quick to protect his strict conservative values. 

Mr. Orban has recently restricted the independence of the courts and Hungary’s prosecution service. Now, almost all of the Hungarian media is now under the control of allies beholden to him. Under Orban’s rule, election laws have been written to favor Fidesz, a Hungarian socialist party (Orban’s ruling party), and opposition parties are constantly scrutinized by state authorities. As Mr. Orban has continued to gain control over Hungary, his government has stepped up attacks against critics. It has demonized immigrants, LGBTQ+ members, curbed academic freedom, and criticized international structures such as the European Union, posing them as threats to Hungarian sovereignty. Orban has also recently passed legislation that revokes the rights of LGBT citizens and allows him to use state money to benefit loyalists because of the relaxed oversight of the spending of government public funds. A family is now defined as having a man as the father and a woman as the mother, also making it more difficult for single parents to adopt. Mr. Orban, much like other leaders in Europe, has also begun more attacks on LGBT community members, generalizing them as an enemy of the good Christian values of the state. Orban’s influences have caused a rise in homophobia as well as anti-semitic values in Hungarian citizens. “Orban constantly changes the rules to the game,” said Akos Hadhazy, an opposition lawmaker. “Hungary is sure to receive massive subsidies from the E.U. over the next two years, which will make it easier for the prime minister to issue payouts to those who serve him.” 

In a survey done in November 2019, 42% of Hungarians were found to have antisemitic views, making Hungary one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe. According to the survey over 3 million Hungarians have anti-Semitic views. A lot of Hungarian respondents also said that “Jews think they are better than other people and that they don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind.”  71% of Hungarians answered that “Jews have too much power in the business world”, 67% that they have “too much power in international financial markets”, and 51% that they have “too much control over global affairs”. Most respondents also truly believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Hungary. 

One question often asked is how Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party have gained so much support towards their nationalist goals. Orban’s pride in his nation has allowed him to avoid accusations about his corruption. Also, the apprehensiveness of the opposing party has allowed Orban to gain domination. Hungary’s recent rise in discriminatory nationalism can be attributed not only to Orban’s tendency to continue to grasp for more power but his constant brainwashing and manipulation of the people into action.

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