Rethinking Europe

There Goes Viktor Orban Again

Hungary’s Viktor Orban isn’t a defender of anybody’s rights. He is an unvarnished unilateralist and, like Putin, a world-class cynic.

Credit: European People's Party www.flickr.com

Takeaways


  • There goes Viktor Orban again. On October 23, 2018, he used the anniversary of the 1956 Budapest uprisings to compare the EU with the Soviet Union.
  • By establishing an analogy between the EU and the USSR, Orban makes a mockery of Hungary’s 20th century history.
  • Hungary’s Viktor Orban isn't a defender of anybody’s rights. He is an unvarnished unilateralist and, like Putin, a world-class cynic.

There goes Viktor Orban again. On October 23, 2018, he used the anniversary of the 1956 Budapest uprisings to compare the EU with the Soviet Union. In so doing, he inferred that both are imperialist occupiers.

By establishing an analogy between the EU and the USSR, Orban makes a mockery of Hungary’s 20th century history. But that apparently does not matter to Orban. Through cheap-shot speechifying, he is trying to set himself up as a defender of European countries against … Europe.

What’s getting lost in the Orban equation is the vital difference between totalitarianism and democracy. Countries become members of the EU because they joined through a democratic process, the aquis, also meaning they agreed to democratic principles known as the Copenhagen criteria, not because they were colonized.

Orban’s revisionist history is straining to fit the EU into a scheme with the USSR. To date, Hungary is not leaving the EU (yet), but Orban is sowing discord for the sole purpose of his personal political advantage at home (and, somewhat ironically, to Russia’s advantage).

Viktor Orban apparently hates the supranational government, which 83% of the Hungarian population supported joining in the interim—in 2004, when he was not Prime Minister, a post he served from 1998-2002, and 2010-to the present.

He just wants the EU to pay for projects in Hungary, the in-country execution of which he then corruptly funnels to his cronies. But other than taking the money, he wants to have absolute power — no common principles, checks or balances.

Orban isn’t a defender of anybody’s rights. He is an unvarnished unilateralist. The European countries and ethnic majorities within those nationalist borders are not enslaved. If anyone, it is Orban who sidelines ethnic and political minorities to his authoritarian control.

Conclusion

In short, Orban wants all the benefits and none of the responsibilities of EU membership. That makes Orban a crass opportunist.

While Orban complains that smaller nations like his Hungary don’t get proper respect inside the EU, consider the case of the Irish: They have gone through hard times, but are happy to be part of the EU. As a tiny island in a globalized world, and historically on the bad end of colonialism from their English neighbors, they know about the benefits of being part of a bigger entity.

Mr. Orban, meanwhile, sidles up to Vladimir Putin, his fellow world-class cynic. Both are united in one fundamental belief: Let’s get away with whatever we can get away with.

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About Carl Bindenagel

Carl Bindenagel is a policy analyst and writer on social justice and social policy.

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