Who is Viktor Orban?
Often described as charming and intelligent, Viktor Orban is Hungary’s Prime Minister. He has previously served as Prime Minister (from 1998-2002) and identifies with the Fidesz party.
This term, Orban’s rule secured his party ultimate power to alter the constitution of the country by claiming 49% of the parliament. In contrast, the extreme nationalist Jobbik party holds 19.2% of voting power, and social democrats holding 12%. Orban regularly challenges the European Union. He strongly advocates for immigration quotas and post-Brexit funding.
Orban’s Controversial Policies
Under Orban, migrant asylum seekers are seen as threats to the nation. Those who help asylum seekers are threatened with jail sentences. The persecution and incarceration of human rights defenders is against the EU charter of fundamental human rights. Orban has accused the EU of promoting an invasion of Muslim populations.
In addition, Orban is seen as attacking both academic and cultural freedoms. Recently, his move to ban gender studies at Hungarian Universities has drawn harsh criticisms. The Hungarian Ministry for Human Capacities said the proposal would come in to effect at the beginning of the 2019 academic year.
Although Orban insists the move is because employers are not hiring graduates of gender studies programs, critics insist that the ban is part of a grander scheme to attach any NGO or institution that opposes his party’s socially conservative narrative. Academics claim that this ban is in direct violation of the Hungarian constitution which explicitly protects the freedom of scientific research and education.
The Future of Hungary, an Analysis
Hungary is not new to nationalist and far-right movements. In fact, in post-World War II Hungary, the country faced a rash series of nationalist movements which included attacks on the remaining Jewish communities in the country as well as strong oppositions to Roma and immigrant communities. The rise of the right in Hungary is not new, but the nationalist sentiments across Europe seem to be gaining fuel from the positive reception of Orban and his policies.