“Tell me the company you keep, and I will tell you what you are.” – Miguel de Cervantes
On August 4, in Texas, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off with a speech by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. Republican activists and politicians applauded as Orban spoke about the achievements of his four-term administration. Orban and his party, Fidesz have built their power by stoking anti-immigrant racist rhetoric, attacking women’s rights and the rights of LGBTQ people, and using electoral manipulation to stay in power. The fact that the Republican Party activists and politicians at CPAC chose Orban as a keynote speaker reveals their repulsive appetite for the same politics here in the United States.
Viktor Orban has ruled Hungary as Prime Minister since 2010. He and his party, Fidesz, came to power by promoting an anti-immigration agenda similar to Trump’s in his 2016 campaign. Once in power, Orban restructured the civil service, and reshaped the electoral rules to guarantee that his own party would win every election. Orban used state control of licensing and regulation to manipulate the media to the point where criticism of Orban and Fidesz is censored. In Hungary today, democracy has been severely limited and it is almost impossible to criticize or remove Orban and his party from power.
Hungary is the gateway to Europe for many immigrants fleeing the Middle East and North Africa. Under Orban, refugees and immigrants have been denied entry into the country, and held in impoverished refugee camps. Orban’s government is explicitly racist in its attacks on immigrants. Just days before appearing in Texas, Orban gave a speech, stating “we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race.” One of Orban’s top advisors resigned over this speech, calling it a “pure Nazi text.”
Orban’s racism doesn’t stop at the question of immigration. Like Trump, Orban has received the support of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and people who fall for those lies. In his speeches, Orban attacks the “globalists” and suggests that the billionaire investor George Soros who is Jewish, is leading a conspiracy to control the world. These are just modern versions of the antisemitic lies that the Nazis used in Germany to scapegoat the Jewish people.
Orban and Fidesz are the architects of a massive attack on women and gay rights in Hungary. In 2012, they presided over the redrafting of the Hungarian constitution. The new constitution explicitly denies the right to an abortion, which had been legal in Hungary since 1953. Along with this attack on women, the 2012 constitution included language to deny rights to LGBTQ people. Education about gender and sexuality and any public reference to LGBTQ people is banned. LGBTQ people have been forced underground by these policies.
Beneath the racism, the limits on democracy, and the attacks on women and LGBTQ people, the Orban government is out to ensure profits for the rich. In 2019, they passed what became known as the “slave law,” giving Hungarian bosses total control of overtime work scheduling and holidays, previously negotiated by contract. Social benefits in Hungary like health care, unemployment, and education have been severely cut. Meanwhile the rich and corporations have received tax cuts and tax breaks making Hungary one of the most profitable countries for multinational corporations to operate in.
At CPAC, Orban received a standing ovation for his speech. Clearly, the Republican Party activists and politicians see Orban and his party as a model to follow. This is no surprise, as Republican Party politicians are already on the offensive against women, LGBTQ people, immigrants and people of color, using identical methods to those of Orban’s regime. We don’t have to imagine the future that these people are trying to force upon us. We know what they want by the company they keep, like the fascist Viktor Orban.