Europe should take over “the Austrian model in which the centre-right is cooperating with the right wing”, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to the news site of the Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung.
“Seen from Budapest, this cooperation seems successful. There is stability with clear-cut objectives and tax cuts, suggesting that Austria is on the right track,” Orbán said prior to his talks with Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. Orbán praised Strache as someone who stood out against Europe’s “decadent political field”. This decadence, he said, was manifest in the European elite no longer trusting in the strength of political action.
“They simply want to continue what they have done so far, and resist if they face something new,” he said. The European elite fails to believe in the strength of leading personalities, and sees danger in those able to inspire the people, Orbán said.
Asked about Fidesz’s membership in the European People’s Party (EPP), he said there was a risk of a final break with the Christian Democrats but this scenario was not one that Fidesz cherished. Orbán said Christian Democrats were shifting to the left in Europe, especially in Germany. If they continue forming coalitions with the Socialists, the left wing, they will have to make compromises and lose their identity, he said, adding that Christian Democrats should be Christians and represent the Christian positions on family and national identity.
“I see great potential in the new parties getting stronger on what you call the outer edges of the political spectrum,” he said. “They represent Christian values even if they do not call themselves Christian Democrats.”
Asked about the policy of French National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, Orbán said that “France is a secular state and Le Pen pursues a secular policy. They do not want to see Islam break through. They give priority to Christian culture, and protect the family and the nation state. I think this is a positive effort but it arouses criticism within the EPP…” This endeavour, he said, would have two consequences. The EPP would lose its identity on the one hand, and contribute to building “a socialist Europe” no longer able to be competitive in the international arena. “There will be tax hikes, overregulation, a swarm of bureaucrats … It is the Austrians and the Germans who will pay the price for that.”
A “liberal network” is at work in Europe, comprising civil organisations, think tanks, media outlets, leftist intellectuals, universities and politicians, Orbán said. They “can make a politician’s life very difficult if they decide to go after him,” he said.
Answering a question on the characteristics of illiberal democracy, Orbán said there were three things “setting us apart from liberals”. The first is the conviction that the family is “fundamental”, he said, adding that the concept of family is understood as based on the union of one man and one woman. This needs protection, he said. “Liberals say no to this. Family seems to be some sort of game to them with endless variations,” he said. Illiberal democrats also feel it their responsibility to preserve the leading culture of their countries while respecting others, Orbán said. In Hungary, that “Leitkultur” is Christianity, he said. Thirdly, “liberal democrats are for migration and illiberals are against it. Illiberals could also be called Christian democrats,” he said.
Regarding Europe’s future, Orbán said that migration may result in “the fates of western and central Europe drifting apart”. The children born today, “be they Christian or Muslim,” will grow up in a world where “people in the West are different from us”, and the differences will be “civilisational and not simply political”. Keeping such a Europe united will be very difficult, he said.
Support for the European Union is enormous in Hungary, Orbán said, adding that the reasons for that are more psychological than economic. “When we became members of the European Union, everyone thought we were home at last, back in the family. That is an extremely strong bond for Hungarians,” he said. Hungarians, however, differentiate between Europe and Brussels “Eurocrats”, he said. They feel Brussels does not respect nation states or understand that its migration policy is destroying the Europe they had fallen in love with, he said. The European Commission and a few member states such as France, Germany, the Nordic and the Benelux states want to manage migration while central European states want to stop it, he said. “The issue as we see it is not whether we can coexist but what can we do to stop that question from even arising,” Orbán said.