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PM Orbán has international friends on his side

December 7th, 2015

Left- and right-wing analysts equally recognise that the Hungarian Prime Minister is not isolated any more with his views on immigration in Europe. They differ however on whether he’s right or wrong and whether his position will ultimately prevail.

In HVG, Péter Techet ridicules right-wing pundits who try to portray the Prime Minister as if he was a leading political figure in Europe. He admits however that Mr Orbán appeals to an growing public throughout the continent. In Germany, for instance, he has become as popular  as the Social Democratic Party and is only lagging a few points behind the Christian Democrats. In most German cities when crowds gather to protest against immigration, he is hailed as a hero. Nevertheless, Techet continues, Mr Orbán was wrong to believe that his anti-migrant policies were a kind of shield protecting Europe. In fact, one or two perpetrators of the Paris terrorist attacks appear to have reached western Europe through Hungary. Despite his relative popularity in Germany, Techet suggests that Mr Orbán is only supported by marginal groupings in the West. All in all, he concludes, the Hungarian Prime Minister has not become Europe’s strongman and the continent doesn’t want to emulate his Hungary.

In Heti Válasz, political scientist Gábor Török believes Mr Orbán can hope to find allies in Great Britain and in Poland, as both countries are governed by parties that are diffident towards Brussels. Otherwise he believes he is mainly supported by radical parties like the National Front in France and the Austrian Freedom Party. A pro-government political analyst, Ágoston Sámuel Mráz thinks Prime Minister Fico of Slovakia may become another stable partner for Mr Orbán despite their ideological differences, because both of them hold national sovereignty in high esteem. He also remarks that President Hollande of France is likely to lose the next elections and opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy, a more likely winner, is fiercely critical of Brussels’ immigration policies and thus might become another Orbán ally. As for the Austrian Freedom Party, Mráz claims that during his recent visit to Vienna Prime Minister Orbán was keen not to meet their leaders.

In his blog, Zsolt Bayer finds it absurd that the European Commission is planning an infringement procedure against Hungary on account of the new Hungarian immigration rules. Sovereignty, Bayer argues, begins where a country may decide whom to let in. Hungary is now one of the few countries in Europe where the leadership acts in that spirit and follows the will of the population in immigration matters. Unlike leaders in other countries who nurture what Bayer calls a ‘religious’ belief in dismantling nation states. If this is the price to pay, the author continues, “we don’t need the European Union.” On the other hand, he sees a new alliance in the making with the Central and Eastern European countries and the Baltic states which may be strong enough to resist “Western and Transatlantic dictates.” Bayer believes Europe is digging its own grave, but Hungary doesn’t want to be part of that process.

In Magyar Idők, László Néző welcomes Donald Tusk’s tough stance on migration as a turnaround that proves the Hungarian Prime Minister right. In fact the President of the European Council used to criticise Mr Orbán and even lectured him on Christianity, while now he seems to be trying to lead the chorus of the forces opposing “Wilkommenskultur”. He would not shrink, for instance, from keeping immigrants in custody for up to 18 months in order to vet them thoroughly. Néző reads Mr Tusk’s statement as a clear condemnation of German Chancellor Merkel’s policies. For such words, he continues, Mr Orbán used to be virtually crucified some time ago but now he can feel vindicated. The author suspects that Mrs Merkel may be incapacitated by unspecified political forces but warns her that background bargaining will not enable any leader ‘to sail against the headwind of history,’ nor can democratic leaders afford to disregard the will of their own people

On Mandiner, Gellért Rajcsányi believes on the other hand that Mr Tusk has never wholeheartedly supported Chancellor Merkel’s line and has always been rather cautious and reserved on immigration issues. Now, at the sight of the obvious deadlock reached by ‘open gate’ policies, he felt it was time to speak out. It’s a shame, Rajcsányi remarks that a full year had to pass before a leading EU official finally struck a sober tone. In fact he believes the Hungarian Prime Minister didn’t actually do anything remarkable when he opposed unfettered immigration; he just knew that order and border control had to be kept in place and this is precisely what any sober citizen also knew, from Luxembourg to Bulgaria. Unlike the European elites who live in a world which is distant from the citizens of Europe, Rajcsányi complains.  He welcomes Tusk’s statement precisely because it may bring those two worlds nearer together.

Hungary Today carries an article by Válasz’s András Bódis who warns his “liberal friends” that their dogmatic support of boundless migration might lead to tragic consequences for them in the first place. He reminds them that in St Denis, the Paris outskirt where police raided a terrorist hideout in mid-November, 30% of the population was born outside Europe. Among those under the age of 18, over 70% are children of at least one immigrant parent. He draws the conclusion that the new arrivals from Muslim countries will find ready-made Islamic infrastructures for them and will feel no urge to integrate into European societies. On the day when most young people will be of immigrant origin and will not have been integrated into local societies, Bódis predicts, it will be hard for everyone, but first of all for liberals who won’t be allowed to celebrate their support for gay rights and other causes so important for them. They will be the first to be oppressed and persecuted. Bódis confesses that he admires liberals ‘for their cleverness and ability to question and quarrel’. “But this time you’re overcomplicating it,” he warns.

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