Viktor Orbán: are we really surprised?

Alex Walker examines Orbán's ascent to power, how he's managed it and how we failed to stop it

Alex Walker
19th April 2020
Images (left to right): EU2017EE Estonian Presidency on Flickr and President of Russia
Viktor Orbán has used coronavirus to make a power grab. The majority of people do not know what a Viktor Orbán is, or what it does. If we paint a portrait of this hard man, what’s happened doesn’t seem very surprising. Right wing autocracy has bloomed across Eastern Europe since the turn of the millennium: Putin’s ironclad rule over Russia seems like it will continue forever, for example. Then again, Russia is Russia.

It might still be surprising that men like Putin exist within the EU. Poland is increasingly drifting towards the right, but Orbán is another matter. Having been at the centre of Hungarian politics for the last 22 years, he is - like Putin - a hard man. But if Putin is a Russian bear - strong and powerful - Orbán is a shark.

It’s easy to wonder how he has stayed at the heart of the nation’s politics for so long, but the answer is simple: enemies. Orbán began his political career by speaking out against the Soviet Union. He has since maintained it by criticising the EU, encouraging hatred towards Romani Gypsy and Jewish people, condemning migrants and advocating conspiracy theories.

Orbán is a shark, who uses hate as a cold political tool

It's important to note that Orbán isn’t hateful himself. Rather, he uses hate as a cold political tool. Populists need the people they claim to hate, to use that hate to foster unity in the face of difference. Every witch hunt needs a roasted old hag. Orbán should be thanking the EU on bended knee. The inability of Merkel, Macron, Michel and Tusk to deal with monkeys like Orbán flinging poo and shrieking has made his career.

So, is it surprising that this shark has used the virus to make a power grab? No. The better question is why are we surprised? Why do we allow tyrants to use bigotry, and endure in perpetuity? Why do we only pay attention to them when they’ve gone so far that we can't pull them back?

The EU and the global left have never cared about Orbán

It amazes me when people are surprised at men like Orbán, when they’ve done nothing to stop them. These people have never cared, the EU has never cared, and the global left has never cared. It's almost more surprising they've started caring now.

Faye Navesey's analysis on Orbán can be found here.

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AUTHOR: Alex Walker
An English Literature student, who enjoys playing devils advocate. Interested in sharing my vacuous opinion on Film, TV, Music, Sports, and Political history. Find me on Facebook if you want write a piece together, or just want to tell me my articles are rubbish somewhere Zuckerberg can hear. Twitter, @TheAlexJLWalker

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