“If we do not lose sight of the memory of 1956, then we can choose a government, that will start immediate negotiation on the instant withdrawal of Russian troops.” said a courageous young man in Heroes Square during the final days of the communist dictatorship in Hungary. His name was Viktor Orbán. After 30 years, according to his enemies, this brave freedom-fighter has become a terrible tyrant. Nothing can be further from the truth.
He is certainly a strong leader and it is not easy to be his political rival. But is his Christian democracy built on sound foundations? I will highlight some facts about Orbán’s political approach, then you can make your own judgement.
We must go back to 2010, when Fidesz had just won the elections with an overwhelming two thirds majority, after 8 long years of misery under a socialist and liberal government, which pushed the country into a devastating political and economic crisis.
In 2008, Hungary had to ask for financial aid from the International Monetary Fund to avoid bankruptcy. Orbán’s government inherited this resultant debt. Through Orbán’s policies, aimed at protecting Hungary’s economic sovereignty, the debt to the IMF has been paid in full.
In 2010, the new government’s unorthodox economic system had two main goals: creating 1 million new jobs and strengthening strategic areas, especially the banking and energy sectors, public utilities and the construction industry. In 2017 the state capital grew for the first time since 1990 and the government is close to delivering on its pledge to create 1 million new jobs, with 850.000 new jobs since 2010.
Orbán’s economic policy is not an end in itself, it is a tool which serves his social and national policy. According to László György, a leading economist, it is patriotic because it helps those who are contributing to the economy: mainly middle class families who are living off their wages rather than the state, foreign investors who are bringing innovation to the country, and Hungarian entrepreneurs. It is also highly pragmatic, as Hungary is a small country of 10 million people, which needs to focus on its specific advantages in order to be competitive.
His government has created a new constitution, adopted new legal codes, a new tax system, all of which are promoting a family oriented social policy model. The Fidesz – KDNP alliance will solve the country’s demographic problems by increasing the domestic birth-rate, instead of relying on mass migration, which is rapidly changing the face of the post-Christian West.
The pro-family approach includes strict constitutional protection for marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Moreover, the program includes significant financial support for young married couples who undertake to have children. In 2010, the Hungarian fertility rate was 1.25, after 8 years of Orbán’s government it has improved to 1.49, but it is still far from the ideal rate of 2.1. By 2016, his policies had led to the number of marriages being one and a half times higher than in 2010, while the number of divorces had decreased gradually. Abortions are still legal in Hungary, but numbers have reduced in recent years, with a fall of nearly 30% from 2010 to 2018.
During the Middle Ages, Hungarians fought a fierce battle against the advancing Ottoman Empire to shield Christian civilization. It is no wonder, that in the 2015 migrant crisis Hungary applied a strong border policy with a strict immigration system, which safeguards the Hungarian way of life. The new constitution protects both Hungarian culture and Christianity as the nation’s foundations.
This is not to say that Orbán’s government does not help those who are in need. The Fidesz-KDNP established Hungary Helps, an independent government agency, with the task to ensure assistance to victims of humanitarian crises and persecuted communities, particularly that of persecuted Christians.
But what is the key to his political success? The Hungarian prime minister’s advisor, András Giró-Szász characterized it with the following line: “the success of the Orbán model is based on the idea of uniting political intellect with political power.”