Domestic Politics

Viktor Orbán Re-Elected As Fidesz Leader As Ruling Party Gears Up For 2018 Elections

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party re-elected Viktor Orbán as chairman at its 27th congress. The incumbent Hungarian Prime Minsiter, who has been the head of Fidesz since 2003 and previously led the party between 1993 and 2000, was re-elected in a unanimous vote by 1,358 delegates.

Fidesz held its 27th congress in Budapest on Sunday to elect its senior officials and set priorities for the future and preparing for next year’s elections. Katalin Novák, Gergely Gulyás, Gábor Kubatov and Szilárd Németh have been elected as deputy leaders of the party. Parliamentary group leader Gergely Gulyás, party director Gábor Kubatov and parliament’s defence and law enforcement committee leader Szilárd Németh have retained their posts as deputy leaders of Fidesz. Katalin Novák, state secretary for family, youth and international affairs at the human resources ministry, will replace as deputy party leader Ildikó Gáll Pelcz who has taken up the post of a member of the European Court of Auditors.

“Changing the opposition”

Addressing the party congress after his re-election as chairman, Viktor Orbán said Fidesz party stands prepared for the 2018 spring general election. “What gives Fidesz its own character is that it never settles with only winning an election; we want a lot more,” he said, adding that the party “was looking to find the deeper reason for its quest to win the election. … We are looking to see how Fidesz can benefit the whole nation, all Hungarians, by winning the election.”

Orbán set for the party three main tasks to accomplish: strengthening the achievements of the past seven years, deepening the ideological and spiritual foundations of the party, and defending Hungary’s future. The prime minister said the incumbent government should stay in power for at least another four-year term to solidify its achievements and make them irreversible. He said that the public mood prevailing in Hungary is for “changing the opposition rather than the government”. Hungarians, he said, cannot rely on the opposition which voted against the crucial decisions passed over the past few years, including family tax benefits, tax cuts, the law allowing women to retire after 40 years of work, the land law, the rescue package of troubled forex mortgage holders and the constitutional amendment aimed at banning the forced settlement of migrants.

“The spirit of the age is on our side, on the side of hard-working, responsible European people who care for their families, love their homeland and cling to their Christian roots. … We are the majority, the overwhelming majority and it is only a matter of time that we will triumph not only in Hungary but in Europe and the western world as a whole,” he said.

„Soros plan”

Hungary will defend its borders, prevent the implementation of the ‘Soros plan’ and finally win the battle.” Orbán said Hungary is threatened by the “empire” of US billionaire George Soros because it stands in the way of the plan to make nations a thing of the past and replace them with a Europe with mixed population. The proponents of that plan “want to remove the governments that represent national interests, including our government.”

Viktor Orbán said migration is only a tool of the “Soros plan”, one to weaken nations and eliminate Christian culture once and for all. The plan gravely jeopardises security, he said, referring to frequents terrorist attacks, an upsurge in crime and violence against women, and a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe’s pro-migration nations.

Some nations wish to enter a “post-Christian, post-national” era. There are various approaches to the issue but there would certainly be no unity if “we try to impose our way of thinking, interests and goals on one another,” he said. A “single Europe” can only survive if “we accept differences and respect one another”, if the continent becomes a free alliance of nations rather than a United States of Europe, Orbán said.

Kövér: “2018 elections are of European significance”

Addressing the congress, László Kövér, a founder of the party and head of its national board, said the general election scheduled for next spring would be crucial. “The ballot’s stake will be whether we are able to defend what is ours, what we have fought for,” he said. “We must defend our culture, faith, language, identity, Hungary’s sovereignty, the right to self-determination and its national character,” Kövér said. Kövér, who also serves as Speaker of Parliament, stressed the need to defend the continent’s borders, its freedom and democratic order. Hungary’s 2018 election would therefore be of “European significance,” he said. Europe today is “the scene of a battle fought for global domination with political, economic and ideological weapons … with Hungary being one of the last strongholds of normality, perhaps the strongest one. If we are unable to defend Europe, the chance for the continent to preserve its multicultural character will be slim,”he said.

Szijjártó: More nation states, less Brussels

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Hungary’s independent foreign policy gives priority to protecting national interests and Christian values, which he said are exposed to the biggest threat in Europe. Szijjártó called it “alarming” that western European countries had adopted a series of decisions to guarantee that there should be more illegal immigrants and the fewest possible Christian symbols maintained on the continent. “Those who wish to establish a United States of Europe want the demise of Europe and of all European nations,” he said. Szijjártó noted that over the past two years all effective responses to the European crises had been given by nation states rather than by Brussels. “It was not Brussels that halted the migrant wave but Hungary that built a fence along its southern border and showed that illegal migration, this astounding threat to Europe can be contained,” he said.

Gulyás: Hungary is a developing island in a crisis-hit world

Gergely Gulyás, Fidesz’s group leader whom the congress reelected as deputy chairman, said Fidesz was leading a country that was a “safe, stable and developing island” in a crisis-hit world. “In order to preserve this situation the only option for us is to win next spring’s election with a comfortable lead for an unprecedented third time in a row,” he said. Gulyás said that the leftist opposition parties now hate one another more than they hate Fidesz which “gives the ruling party not more power but more responsibility towards the nation”.

Lázár: Hungary’s sovereignty is at stake

János Lázár, the government office chief, said that achievements by Fidesz as a ruling party “had entitled” it to win the general election next year. Fidesz is prepared to continue to govern, Lázár said, noting that hard work and progress had marked the past eight years over two government cycles. He said the stake of next spring’s general election would be whether a party would be elected into power that defends Hungary’s sovereignty and borders or one obeying Brussels.

Opposition reactions

The opposition Socialist Party, Jobbik, LMP, DK and Együtt criticised Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and ruling Fidesz after the party’s Sunday congress and vowed to replace them in next spring’s general election.

The Socialists (MSZP) said Fidesz sent themessage that it wanted to continue to govern the country, but if elected again in next year’s vote it would only continue with “theft and a hate campaign waged to cover up problems”. “The Hungarian opposition now has a historic responsibility of joining forces, giving a political opportunity to the majority of voters who want to oust Fidesz and see a change in government,” the Socialists said.

Gábor Vona, the prime ministerial candidate of radical nationalist Jobbik, said Orbán was concerned about nothing else but retaining power. Vona said a politician like Orbán who conceals the truth about increasing poverty, the exodus of young people, the spread of corruption and the poor state of health care and education “is unfit” to represent Jobbik’s supporters. He blamed Fidesz for allowing “the settlement of 20,000 migrants in Hungary” through its residency bond scheme.

Bernadett Szél, the prime ministerial candidate of green party LMP, said Orbán’s speech was “yet another weak effort to conceal the fact that his government has been unable to tackle the problems of the 21st century”. The Orbán government has over the past seven years kept wages low, destroyed education and health care and sunk deep in corruption, she said.

The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) of former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány called on Orbán “to stop promising anything else over the few next months that are left before next spring’s vote”. If Orbán remained in power for another four-year term, Hungary would lose one million people choosing to go abroad and the number of those living in poverty would go up from 3 million to 4 million, the party said, adding that Orbán would even drive Hungary out of the EU during his next term.

The Együtt (Together) party said the prime minister would with his policy “consume Hungary’s future”. Orbán’s “old-style” speech demonstrated that “he is afraid of a modern, free and progressive world,” it said.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI; photos: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI