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15th Dec 2019

Orban wants to build 'illiberal state'

  • Viktor Orban's Fidesz party is a member of the centre-right EPP pan-European political family (Photo: European People's Party)

Hungary leader Viktor Orban has said he wants to build an illiberal state based on national foundations, citing Russia and China as examples.

Speaking at a retreat of ethnic Hungarian leaders in Baile Tusnad, Romania, on Saturday (26 July) the right wing leader said that the 2008 financial crisis triggered changes as significant as the two world wars and as those in 1990, the year of transition in Eastern and Central Europe.

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The experience of the financial crisis showed that “liberal democratic states cannot remain globally competitive.”

“I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations," he said, according to Bloomberg.

Orban said that there is a race in the world now on how best to organise the state to make nations successful.

"Today, the world tries to understand systems which are not Western, not liberal, maybe not even democracies yet they are successful" he said, and mentioned Singapore, China, India, Russia and Turkey as examples.

Orban, who has a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, said he is seeking to find the best way to organise the Hungarian state to make it more competitive and that it was time to break with liberal principles and methods of social organisation.

He said that these efforts were being obstructed by civil society groups and that NGO workers are political activists representing foreign interests.

Budapest recently got into a political dispute with Norway after the Hungarian authorities raided the offices of NGOs involved in administrating aid from the Nordic country. Orban's goverment had accused the Norwegian Fund of supporting opposition political groups.

Orban's speech, which is on the government website, is likely to raise eyebrows in Brussels which has had several clashes with him over changes he has made to tighten the control over the judiciary and press.

Neelie Kroes, EU digital agenda commissioner, on Monday (28 July) once agan hit out at Budapest saying that media freedom "still very much under threat" in Hungary.

Orban, who was elected for a second four-year in term in April, has also attracted criticism from some quarters in the EU for cultivating ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Moscow recently lending Budapest €10bn to build a nuclear plant.

Illustrating his thinking on democracy, Orban noted how US president Barack Obama could be impeached by Congress for encroaching on its power.

“What do you think, how long could I stay in office?" he asked, in reference to the US system.

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