The left wing across Europe is in uproar after Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban declared he wanted to build an “illiberal” state based on the Hungarian nation “while of course respecting the values of Christianity, freedom and human rights.”
The global financial crisis in 2008 showed that “liberal democratic states can’t remain globally competitive,” Orban said, according to Bloomberg.
In a speech at the weekend, the Hungarian prime minister said he wants to abandon liberal democracy in favour of an “illiberal state.”
Orban said that there is a race in the world now on how best to organise the state to make nations successful: “Today, the world tries to understand systems which are not Western, not liberal, maybe not even democracies yet they are successful” he said, and mentioned Singapore, China, India, Russia and Turkey as examples.
“I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations.”
He said that these efforts were being obstructed by civil society organisations receiving funding from abroad who are in fact political activists representing foreign interests.
“We’re not dealing with civil society members but paid political activists who are trying to help foreign interests here.”
“The Hungarian nation is not a mere pile of individuals but a community which needs to be organized, strengthened and built.”
He said his “illiberal democracy” won’t deny the “fundamental values” of liberalism, such as “freedom.”
Orban said “We want to build a workfare society…which is willing to bear the odium to declare that it is not liberal in character.”
Hungarian left-leaning newspaper Népszabadság compared the implications of Orban’s speech to the authoritarianism of an inter-war Mussolini.
A Hungarian opposition group said it wants to draw the attention of the incoming European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, to the “constantly deteriorating quality of Hungarian democracy.”
One opposition politician has called it the “Putinisation of Hungary.”
However, a commentator in the Financial Times wrote: “To be fair to the Hungarian prime minister, he sought to make a distinction between liberalism and democracy, arguing that while Hungary will continue to respect ‘freedom and democracy,’ it should reject liberalism’s stress on individual rights.”
Orban’s comments may even be met with some silent sympathy in the British government, where the ancient tradition of the protection of the rights of life, liberty and property has been overwhelmed by European insistence on the adherence to Continental-style legislated rights.
Because of the European Convention on Human Rights, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has, for example, been directed to enforce the “right” of prisoners to vote, and the “right” of 100 convicted foreign criminals a year to avoid deportation because they claim the right to a family life in Britain.
European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said on Tuesday that the commission had no comment to make concerning Orban’s speech.