ANALYSIS – The establishment media and liberal elites in the U.S.and Europe regularly condemn Hungarian president Victor Orban’s alleged ‘illiberalism,’ but U.S. conservatives see his domestic model, if not his foreign policy, as a welcome success story.
Most recently American conservatives flocked to Budapest for a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in May.
Sadly, I was unable to attend but would have loved to have been there.
At the next CPAC in Dallas, Texas this August, Orban was given a standing ovation.
So, what is it about Orban that American conservatives like so much?
First, let me say there are things not to like about him and his government.
They have been somewhat authoritarian against the press and opposition parties. Though some would claim that this was a needed housecleaning of entrenched leftist interests.
My biggest complaint though is Orban’s and his Fidesz party’s soft approach toward Russia and Vladimir Putin (in great part due to Hungary’s energy dependence), and his relative lack of support for his invaded neighbor, Ukraine.
I’m also unhappy and extremely concerned by his close ties to Communist China.
Under Orban, Hungary was the first European country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the country has been called Beijing’s closest European ally.
This makes a mockery of Orban’s original anti-communist ideals and gives Beijing a strategic foothold in the heart of Europe.
However, China’s growing influence in Hungary is increasingly unpopular and has created a growing backlash. It featured prominently in the opposition’s campaign against Orban in the recent elections (which Orban’s party won in a landslide).
I would like to see Orban and his party go back to their roots in opposing Communist China, and all similar regimes, including Putin’s Russia.
But most U.S. conservatives don’t look at Orban’s foreign policies. They are far more interested in his domestic policies. And they like what they see.
And yes, I like them too.
As James Crisp writes in the Telegraph:
…American conservatives find Mr. Orban’s willingness to use the state to fight culture wars tremendously exciting.
He has made gay marriage constitutionally illegal (civil partnerships are allowed) and banned content “promoting” LGBT lifestyles from schools.
He has also banned same-sex adoptions and ended legal recognition for transgender people, making it impossible for them to legally change their sex.
Then in September, he introduced a law forcing women wanting an abortion to listen to the fetus’ heartbeat first.
And then there are his successful battles against immigration and adverse demography.
The Telegraph continues:
It is now illegal to claim asylum at the Hungarian border instead of at one of the country’s consulates, for example, and he has built not one but two controversial walls on the border with Serbia and Croatia.
He has also ushered in rules which mean families having three or more children are effectively exempt from tax in a bid to push up Hungary’s population.
Due to his policies, the fertility rate in Hungary has gone from 1.2 births per woman to 1.6, curbing the need for more immigrants.
I would support all these policies, in whole or in part, here in the U.S.
And compared to the militant secularism of the French right, American conservatives also find his party’s religiosity reassuring, and more aligned with traditional American Christian values.
Meanwhile, the conservative right is winning in other places, such as Italy, with the surprising victory of Georgia Meloni, and soon in the U.S. with Republicans retaking the House, and possibly the Senate too.
In France, in June, the conservative party of Marine Le Pen secured enough seats to form a parliamentary group, giving it more clout, for the first time in four decades.
And the right is about to return to Israel under Bibi Netanyahu.
The only big loss globally was in Brazil, where Jair Bolsonaro apparently just lost to Socialist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. That loss is likely less due to ideology than personality, but it is a loss, nonetheless.
The takeaway from all this though is that until recently there hasn’t been a global conservative movement with similar ideas to counter the vast ‘Socialist International.’
But things are changing now. And Orban’s Hungary is at the center of it. Or maybe to the right of it.
Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.