In recent years, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has been referred to as the “newest dictator in Europe.” His strict policy on immigrants in Hungary, crack-down on NGOs in the country, and close ties with Vladimir Putin of Russia, show that the Hungarian leader is leaning towards the status of a Populist Authoritarian. His comment made at a university in Romania clearly demonstrates this trend and his plan to make Hungary an “illiberal state like China, Turkey and Russia.” Orbán stated, “ I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations… While breaking with the dogmas and ideologies that have been adopted by the West, we are trying to find the form of community organization, the new Hungarian state, which is capable of making our community competitive in the great global race for decades to come”. Orbán is following a classic pattern; gradually transitioning his country towards an authoritarian state, away from the mindset of a populist ruling.
Viktor Orbán wasn’t always seen as this type of leader. On June 16, 1989, a young, liberal, democratically-driven Orbán gave an inspiring and anti-communist speech that demanded the removal of Soviet troops in Hungary. This event portrayed Hungary as a “beacon of democracy” to the whole world. After emerging onto the political scene in 1989 Orbán has had two stints as Prime Minister and created his party, Fidesz. The first time in he was in office was from 1998 to 2002 and the second from 2010 on. Orbán’s Fidesz, is a very conservative right-wing, populist political party. Today, in the capital city of Budapest, marketing for the party as a populist institution is “inescapable” . After regaining power in Hungary, Fidesz has worked at having total control. In a recent comment made by a member of the Fidesz, it sounds like Orbán has his party members wrapped around his thumb, all with the same populism and Euroscepticism beliefs, “Orbán grabbed power, took over the cash flow and chose all those who were loyal to him.” Fidesz is right behind their leader in the drive to be an illiberal state.
In spite of his authoritarian leanings , Orbán puts on the appearance that he has his populist and “Pure Hungarian” views to protect the people of his country from the EU, NGOs, Immigrants, and “The West” in general. Orbán has recently taken action against refugees in Hungary by detaining immigrants in metal shipping containers and establishing “border hunters” along the long fence that was erected on the southern border of the country. Orbán has recently made comments that demonstrate his racist, populist, and extremely nationalist views. Orbán stated that “Migration is the Trojan Horse of Terrorism” and has actually arrested immigrants who “threaten Christianity in Hungary.” Viktor Orbán has made it clear that he doesn’t want any foreigners in his country.
In recent years, Viktor Orbán has been known to have close ties with Vladimir Putin and Russia, which is known for having very little to no human rights. In Hungary, the Fidesz and Orbán have eliminated checks and balances and has made other changes that draw the country away from liberty. The Hungarian Government has recently stated that they don’t take orders from the EU. Viktor Orbán has installed the belief in his fellow Hungarians that he is not necessarily leaning the country away from the EU, but rather working for a better EU.
Viktor Orbán is definitely not the same leader he was in his earlier days. His political outlooks and the actions he takes that are supposed to “benefit his country” have seemingly turned into what he was trying to escape in the first place. Hungary is definitely moving away from being a democracy, thanks to Orbán. The irony of populism today, is that “the people’s” idol can easily transition into an authoritarian leader, and threaten their liberty and safety. Watch out Hungary!