The Hungarian Prime Minister has some supporters in Hungary. But his birthday may not be a happy day for everyone. Because Victor Orban made life difficult for many people, especially minorities.
“The dictator is coming!” In 2015, the then EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker mischievously welcomed Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban at a summit in Latvia. Then, laughing, he shook his hand and patted his shoulder. That may have sounded mocking eight years ago, but the saying has a stale aftertaste.
Orban turned 60 on May 31. He has held the office of Prime Minister for a total of 17 years, from 1998 to 2002 and again since 2010. In recent years he has made sure that he will probably keep this office for a while.
Victor Orban is changing Hungary according to his ideas
with the star said the Hungarian-born Austrian publicist Paul Lendvai in 2021: “Perhaps Hungary will become the first dictatorial member state of the EU.” Because through various legislative initiatives, Orban has ensured that the country is taking this direction. Despite its EU membership and the associated rights and obligations. An overview of three particularly controversial measures.
Orban’s government is targeting sexual and gender minorities. Orban’s 2021 anti-LGBTQ laws became known primarily through a sentence that the right-wing conservative president said on the radio. “Hungary is very tolerant and patient towards homosexuals.” There is only one red line: “You must not cross it: leave the children alone.”
What is presented as the alleged protection of minors goes far beyond that. Since 2019, a constitutional amendment has only allowed marriage between a man and a woman. Educational campaigns in schools are prohibited in Hungary, as are books, campaigns or advertisements that show a different form of family than mother, father and child. This also applies to content on streaming platforms. Queer people are thus systematically pushed out of the public eye. Violent attacks are also common. The Hungarian daily “Nepszava” even wrote that suicide is one of the main causes of death among homosexual young people.
In 2023, the Hungarian parliament followed suit and passed a new law that allows citizens to report same-sex couples with children to the authorities. Anonymous.
- The law against the spread of false news:
Orban controls the Hungarian media. In 2010, just after his re-election, the conservative Christian government dared to intervene in the Hungarian media landscape for the first time. Thanks to a two-thirds majority, the parliament led by Orban’s Fidesz party was able to pass a repressive media law that would allow authorities to more easily control and – in the case of unpleasant reporting – punish the media.
Fidesz filled key positions with Orban loyalists. These bought into many private media houses. In addition, the public broadcasters were merged into one. Other critical portals were shut down entirely or their reach was massively reduced until the last independent radio station went offline in February 2021. There were also several “black lists” recording unwanted journalists. The non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders therefore lists Hungary in 72nd place out of 180 in a press freedom ranking.
Orban used the Corona period in particular for his personal agenda and pushed the so-called “fake news law” through parliament. This means that journalists, bloggers or other publicists face up to five years in prison if they reproduce information in such a way that they could “worry” the population.
- State of emergency due to mass immigration, Corona, Ukraine war
“We don’t want any minorities in our midst whose cultural background is completely different from ours. We want to keep Hungary for the Hungarians,” the Hungarian head of government once said in 2015. That applied to Muslims at the time, but not exclusively. Since then, the government has repeatedly tightened the right to asylum, although comparatively few people immigrate to the country and the overall population is declining. For example, since 2020, asylum applications can only be made in Hungarian embassies. From May 2020 to the end of 2021, only twelve of these were approved, reports the association Pro Asyl. At least 20,000 pushbacks took place in 2022 alone, i.e. forced returns from Hungary to other countries.
In addition, Orban is able to use various crisis situations for himself by taking them as an opportunity for emergency legislation. In 2015, for example, he declared a “state of emergency over mass immigration,” allowing him to rule by decree. He no longer needs parliament to pass laws. In March, the state of emergency followed because of the corona virus’, which he could extend at will without the consent of Parliament. After that, the pretext was the war in Ukraine, then last year’s energy crisis.
Or as publicist Lendvai summed it up: “He created a real security system to stay in power. From the person of the chief prosecutor to the budget council, all sorts of institutions are occupied by his people. It would be impossible to go against it. Hungary hasn’t been a real democracy for a long time.”
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I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.