The Orbán verdict: now the People’s Party must now expel the far-right Fidesz

12 09 18

By Bernard Rorke

In an unprecedented move, the European Parliament has voted to censure Hungary’s illiberal regime. The EPP now needs to expel Orbán’s far-right party from its ranks. There can be no place for a politics of bigotry and hate among democrats.

A day after liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt attacked Viktor Orbán as “the seed of discord that will ultimately destroy our European project”, the European Parliament voted by 448 votes to 197 to initiate the Article 7 process, the EU’s so-called “nuclear option” which could lead to Hungary being stripped of its right to vote in the Council of the European Union.

Tuesday’s debate in the European Parliament was prompted by the report written by Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini.

Her claim that the Hungarian regime’s attacks on the media, minorities, and the rule of law represented “a clear breach of the values of our union” was vindicated by a huge majority in the vote that followed on Wednesday.

This brings an end to eight years of Viktor Orban’s ducking, diving and deflecting international criticism under the protective umbrella of the European People’s Party (EPP).

Blasted repeatedly by conservative, Green, liberal, socialist and left MEPs as the least democratic and most corrupt government in the EU, Orbán’s party stands exposed and isolated as never before and the workings of his illiberal regime will come under more sustained and robust scrutiny.

The EPP has had enough of Orbán’s excesses and the smear of moral turpitude left on its reputation as a party that strives to “achieve a common understanding between cultures and religions to ensure a peaceful coexistence of people in Europe”.

The next logical step for the EPP is to expel Fidesz from the parliamentary group and show that there is no room for a far right nativist authoritarian regime in its ranks. The EPP also needs to make it clear racism has no place among the members of its Christian Democratic family.

For Fidesz stands accused not only of illiberalism and corruption but also of blatant racism, an accusation that will be harder to deflect now that all eyes are on Budapest.

“Racist” is not an epithet that senior, highly respected human rights defenders bandy about lightly. It is a deadly serious allegation to make about a head of state.

So, it was quite a moment when UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein challenged Viktor Orbán as one of Europe’s xenophobes and racists who have “cast off any sense of embarrassment”.

In a damning verdict, he described a speech by Orbán where the latter spoke of not wanting “our” colour mixed with others, as “a clear-cut statement of racism … an insult to every African, Asian, Middle Eastern or Latin American woman, man and child.” Orbán has been peddling this sort of hate for some time now.

Muslim invaders

Orbán’s relentless bill-poster hate campaigns against philanthropist George Soros and his mendacious “public consultations”, designed to spread fear and hate among the electorate against refugees and migrants, have succeeded in creating a climate where 72% of Hungarians have an unfavourable view of Muslims, the highest rate in Europe.

In various interviews Orbán declaims multiculturalism as an illusion and states that “We don’t see these people as Muslim refugees. We see them as Muslim invaders” and that Hungary “does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself”. “For us,” he claims, “migration is not a solution but a problem … not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it.”

Orbán has declared that there is no cultural identity in a population without a stable ethnic composition and has even stated that economic prosperity depends on preserving ethnic homogeneity, “as life has proven that too much mixing causes trouble.”

Much of this would be described by Orbánistas as run of the mill anti-migration populism but there is little run of the mill about Orban’s threatening concept of the political that thrives on the friend-enemy distinction and includes a racist dehumanising of those designated as the enemy on the grounds of their ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

“Biological sustainability”

For Orbán, protecting the Hungarian people from “dying out” is part of a supposed wider battle to save Western civilization, and only those communities that can “sustain themselves biologically” without immigration will survive.

Because “Hungary has defended itself – and Europe at the same time – against the migrant flow and invasion”, Orbán declares, “There shall be no mass disorder. No immigrant riots here, and there shall be no gangs hunting down our women and daughters.”

Orbán’s brutalist, nativist brand of politics and his party’s capture of the state has won him admiration from far right extremists across Europe.

In a recently released video, Orbán amiably discussed the “decline of the West” with members of the Belgian fascist Schild & Vrienden delegation to the annual Fidesz summer camp and told them that in politics you need to form squads and that “it’s time to awaken the nation”

The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein described Orbán’s racist rhetoric as “increasingly delusional”: he has “managed to portray Muslims and Africans as an existential menace to Hungarian culture, a threat he alleges is masterminded by the Hungarian-American financier George Soros.”

The Commissioner stated that to hear such speech “unabashedly expressed by the leader of a modern, European Union country should outrage every one of us”, and that it is time to stand up to bullies of Mr Orbán’s ilk.

Wednesday’s vote is an encouraging first step and there must be no let up and no room among democrats for racists because, in the words of the Commissioner, “the increasingly authoritarian – though democratically elected – Viktor Orbán is a racist and xenophobe.”




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