In the past 12 months I have visited Hungary twice, each for 5 days, once for a birthday and once for Christmas. Both times we stayed in central Budapest, a stones throw away from the Danube and in a high quality hotel close to all the tourist attractions including Parliament, Buda Castle, Freedom Square, restaurants, bars, markets, shops and cafes. Immediate and post visit impressions have all been very positive; friendly people, clean streets, no beggars or homeless on the streets, Hungarian nationals in most jobs everywhere, excellent public transport via metro, buses and trams, reasonable pricing in restaurants and bars as well as affordable city apartments (compared to London anyway). None of these things suggested a country in crisis, one of the “poor” European countries, a country deserving of censure by the EU, or with everything being state controlled by an authoritarian dictator ……. the Prime Minister, Victor Orbán!
Now in my twilight years I occasionally look back at my “heroes”, people I admire for their values, beliefs, behaviour, achievements. Some sporting, some scientific, some explorers, some political; Isaac Newton, Isambard K Brunel, Shackleton, Mallory, Bobby Charlton, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher ……… every one of them with a mission and focus beyond personal gain, some overcoming personal adversity, all now ingrained in British culture in very different ways. And now I see another hero, but not British, a man standing against the tyranny of the EU totalitarian bureaucracy and the blatant destructive multicultural agenda of George Soros, BOTH undoubtedly in league with each other. Victor Orbán is another Winston Churchill, a roaring lion who appears to stand alone but speaks for his own people, a man who will not bow down to the dictats of Brussels and who is slowly improving the everyday lives of the Hungarian people with more jobs, better healthcare, and an improving economy. But his greatest stand is against mass migration into Hungary and this is his most public battle with the EU and Soros Organisation.
“Today, it is not uncommon to meet people in Western Europe or the United States who say quite equably: “He’s a dictator, isn’t he, well, an authoritarian anyway? . . . I hear there’s no freedom of the press in Hungary . . . the light of Democracy has gone out there, everyone tells me . . . Orbán’s cozying up to Putin . . . he probably wants to be another Putin himself . . . ” These things are said without any apparent expectation of disagreement, as if they are matters of common consent, obviously true in general, if possibly subject to correction on minor detail. They are voiced, moreover, not by a random cross-section of people in whom ignorance would be a valid excuse, but by those who read newspapers such as the Guardian or the New York Times, with extensive foreign coverage. They smile sadly when they express such concerns. They want Hungarians to know that they have friends.”
The above quote is quite enlightening, taken from The Second Term of Victor Orbán, Beyond Prejudice and Enthusiasm, edited by John O’Sullivan.
“Some opposition leaders make fiery speeches against him, even calling for “Europe” to take “action” against him. These calls are occasionally echoed by sympathetic socialist Euro-MPs, or by left-wing think-tanks in Brussels or Berlin. After that, nothing much happens. The reason is that no-one, inside or outside Hungary, can make a serious case that Orbán wields powers not granted him by the constitution. He may occasionally claim to be leading a “revolution”, but that is political rhetoric. It means no more than he is carrying out extensive political change by passing laws in a thoroughly constitutional way. Hungary’s executive, legislature, and court system are all still in situ and acting in accord with democratic and constitutional norms.”
It is therefore a widespread view in the Western World that the Orbán government is authoritarian and undemocratic, even illegitimate. This view is particularly held by left wing liberals and intellectuals but from what I have seen and heard from people in Budapest this is simply false. Orbán is a strong Hungarian patriot, he is sceptical towards ideas of supranationalism and global governance that underpin the European Union itself.
“He is a formidable character: a natural leader, determined, far-sighted, ruthless at times, charming, eloquent in a combative way, all in all a kind of human bulldozer in politics. And he gets into trouble because of it.”
In essence he has translated many of his personal experiences related to life under communist rule, post communist corruption plus lies and manipulation of the Hungarian economy, into a series of broad policy objectives—a society based on work and workfare, the construction of a broad Hungarian middle class as an engine of stable growth and the defence of national sovereignty. It is this final objective that has Orbán refusing to accept mass migration or migration quotas from Brussels or Berlin with the EU threatening to sue, fine, censure, and restrict Hungary from EU benefits. Like a petulant child the EU seem incapable of discussing the needs of individual nations or the internal cultures and values that would influence their approach to migration of any kind, mass or otherwise. Orbán has reduced the state welfare burden, increased employment, increased education outputs, eradicated terrorism, outlawed illegal begging and street “living”; so why on earth would he accept a unilateral immigration policy from a group of wine guzzling, overpaid, unelected, elite, Soros paid bureaucrats in Brussels which is counter to the needs and will of the Hungarian people. THAT is democracy in action Mr Juncker and Mrs Merkel!
During our recent visit to Budapest we had brief and interesting conversations with people, always asking the same initial question, “do you like Mr Orbán and why”. Several said they didn’t like him, couldn’t explain why, and often said they didn’t understand or get involved in politics. On the positive side two people stood out; firstly a young woman, highly educated, a scientist, university researcher who said she didn’t think him radical enough, more economic change needed and a tougher stance needed internationally or anti Soros; and secondly a middle aged airport worker who said quite simply:
“Of course I like him, this is Hungary, not Islamabad or any other ‘bad!”