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“Yes” to democracy, “no” to liberalism  

The Prime Minister was speaking on an outdoor stage to an audience of several thousand, as one of the founders and permanently returning speakers at the annual event in Tusványos, which this year marked its thirty-year jubilee. Mr. Orbán analysed the mission of his generation, evaluating the three decades which have passed since the fall of communism and outlining tasks for the next fifteen years.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

He said that during their student years from 1989 to 1991, the task of the generation of the fall of communism – or system transformation – was to fight for the country’s independence and freedom. He described the period between 1990 and 1994 as being “the first liberal transformation”, with the building of a capitalist market economy and a democratic system of legal and political institutions. The Prime Minister stated that later, between 1994 and 2010, it was necessary to defeat the “returning successor groups” of the socialist system and their international helpers.

The “blueprint” for the second, national transformation was prepared between 2006 and 2010, he noted, adding that then this needed to be introduced, a new, community-based national system needed to be built, and for this it was necessary to achieve political victory – with a two-thirds majority.

In Mr. Orbán’s opinion, the “prime time” of the political generation he represents will be the coming fifteen years, with completion of the most important tasks.

Mr. Orbán said that over the past thirty years there has been a realisation that rather than ascribing a goal to time, we must give meaning to our own lives “within the framework of time”. He added that this is true not only for individuals, but also for generations: meaning must be given to the life of each generation.

He pointed out that his generation had been given a historic opportunity to strengthen the Hungarian nation.

He described this as having been an “unconscionably hard struggle”, adding that this is how it will continue in the future.

In the Prime Minister’s assessment, today the Hungarian nation possesses the political and economic capabilities – and soon also the physical capabilities – to be able to defend itself and to remain independent.

In his address, the Hungarian prime minister stressed that the country’s sovereignty has been regained, the International Monetary Fund “went home”, Hungary has fought successful battles with Brussels, and has also protected its borders against migration.

He described the current situation thus: “today Hungary is on a promising course: sound finances, falling debt, strong growth, rising wages, strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises, growing families and vigorous nation-building.”

According to Mr. Orbán, the threats to Hungary’s continuing progress on this promising course do not come from within the country, but from outside. He said that these attacks must be repelled.

He said that through “complicated manoeuvres” they had managed to prevent the election of George Soros’s candidate as President of the European Commission and the installation of “ideological guerrillas” in important European posts.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

The Prime Minister said that after this the European Commission must act as the guardian of the Treaties, and “it must abandon political activism”.

“It is not a political body, it is not its remit to have a programme, and it is not its remit to launch political attacks on Member States,” he stated. He pointed out that the most important, strategic decisions are adopted by the European Council, which consists of the elected prime ministers.

Mr. Orbán stated that the mistakes made in the EU over the past five years – particularly in the areas of migration and the economy – must be corrected. He said that the European Commission must withdraw from the issue of migration, and a council of the interior ministers of the Member States within the Schengen Area must take over the powers and tasks related to migration.

Turning to the economy, the Prime Minister said that the EU must abandon work on building European socialism, and must return to the ideal of a competitive European economy. Successful economies must be supported, he said, and the concept of a basic income independent of employment – which has been raised to a European level – must be discarded. Instead he stressed the need for jobs, the implementation everywhere of tax reductions, the elimination of bureaucratic rules, and the encouragement of investment and job creation instead of austerity policies.

Mr. Orbán said that if the Hungarian government’s assessment of the European economy’s prospects proves to be correct, Hungary will need a second economy protection action plan next spring, and a third one next autumn.

He added that the action plans must improve competitiveness.

Mr. Orbán said that the economies of Western European countries are not growing at the rate that Hungary would like to see. Therefore, he added, for Hungary a top priority is to plan a new route towards 2020 and 2021, with the goal being the capacity to minimise negative external impacts and mobilise the country’s internal resources.

Speaking about the near future, the Prime Minister stressed that Hungary will also be engaged in battles over issues relating to the rule of law. In this regard he said that “we will need nerves of steel” so as not to laugh and “offend our partners”. Referring to the current Finnish presidency of the EU, he said that in the period ahead the state of the rule of law in Hungary will be evaluated together with “our Finnish friends”. Meanwhile, he noted, in Finland there is no Constitutional Court, defence of the Constitution is merely delegated to a parliamentary committee, and the Academy of Sciences is under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Education.

Mr. Orbán identified another important question as the future of the Fidesz and KDNP membership of the European People’s Party (EPP). He said that any decision on this must wait until the overall situation within the EPP has become clearer, and the People’s Party has decided what kind of future it sees for itself. This could happen at the EPP’s autumn congress, he said.

He pointed out that there is an international assumption that around the world liberal democracies must operate, that these must create a kind of liberal internationalism, and that this process must result in a liberal empire. He stated that the European Union is nothing but the embodiment of this; but it is clear that what is happening in Hungary is something different.

In his opinion, in order to understand this one must look back to the situation inherited by the Government in 2010. Back then, he said, less than half of the economically active population was carrying the vast bulk of the burden in Hungary, with 3.6 million people in work and only 1.8 million taxpayers. He described this as “a long and uncomfortable form of suicide”. By contrast, he observed, today 4.5 million people are in employment, and they are all paying taxes. Among the inherited problems he spoke about were the desperate debt situation and the decline of Hungary’s cultural identity: the notion of belonging to a nation was disappearing; Hungarian communities beyond the borders were unable to resist the pressure of assimilation weighing down on them; and there was deterioration the police and the army, in the physical capabilities to protect sovereignty.

Mr. Orbán said that in 2010 the Prime Minister and the Government needed to give an answer to the question of whether a solution to these Hungarian problems could be envisaged within the framework of liberal democracy. “And the firm answer that we gave to this was ‘No, it’s not possible, there is no good answer to these questions within this framework; so something else needs to be created.’ We said that the framework of the capitalist market economy left from the liberal transformation had to be maintained, democratic legal and political institutions had to be preserved, but radical change was needed in the organising mode of society and the community. We expressed this by saying ‘yes’ to democracy and ‘no’ to liberalism.”

“We have rethought the relationship between the community and the individual, and put it on a new conceptual basis.” he pointed out.

The Prime Minister argued that in the liberal system society is an aggregate of individuals, each competing with one another, and there is no nation – or at most there is only a political nation. He contrasted this with the illiberal or national approach, in which a nation is a historically and culturally determined community. In this, he said, the members of the community must be protected and prepared in order to collectively stand their ground in the world; and the individual achievements which deserve recognition are primarily those which also benefit the community. He added that in the illiberal or national system, achievements that merit recognition are not merely private matters; they include self-sufficiency, work, securing a livelihood, paying taxes, starting a family and raising children, and participation in national self-reflection.

The Prime Minister stated that Hungary has now experienced the creation of an illiberal state and a genuine model of state and political theory: a distinctive Christian democratic state.

“According to the liberal concept of freedom, you can only be free if you let go of everything that makes you belong somewhere: borders, history, language, religion and traditions,” the Prime Minister said. He went on to describe the antithesis of this: the illiberal way of thinking, in which the individual’s demand for freedom must not override the interests of the community. He pointed out that a person is illiberal if they defend their borders, defend their national culture, and reject external interventions and attempts at building empires.

According to the Prime Minister, liberals hate illiberals because the former are driven by an imperial mentality based on absolutism. He described it ironically in these terms: “Not even the slightest stubbornness can be tolerated. Because if there is even the slightest stubbornness which shows that a community can be organised differently, then the doctrine of universal salvation will be proved to be false. And if, after all this, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic insist on their own ideas, that is unbearable and intolerable; and they must be detested, because they stand opposed to the universal good of mankind.”

Mr. Orbán stressed that the meaning of illiberal politics is simply Christian liberty, and politics which works for Christian liberty aspires to protect everything that liberals neglect, forget and despise. He stated that “we shall spend the next fifteen years turning against the liberal zeitgeist and liberal internationalism. This will be our generational mission, because this is the only way we can strengthen Hungary”. He observed that “ours is an uphill battle, but on our side we have that which can be described as beautiful, free and just – and which we can sum up as Christian liberty”.

He noted that, even in opposition to a liberal zeitgeist, it is indeed possible for an EU country of ten million to climb out from under a mountain of debt, to restore its economic sovereignty, to grow faster than liberal democracies, to successfully reject migration, to protect families, to defend Christian culture, to announce a programme of national unification and nation building, and to create an order of Christian liberty – and in all this to survive against an international headwind, and indeed to make it succeed. Concluding his speech, the Prime Minister said that all this nevertheless requires courage and unity, as expressed in this year’s slogan for the Tusványos event: “The camp is united”.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

At a forum held after his speech, Mr. Orbán answered questions from the audience. In one of his answers, he spoke about behaviour in Brussels which, instead of assisting the advancement of the Hungarian people, takes pleasure in blocking Hungarian candidates for posts in the European Parliament. He described this as “wretched, third-rate politics”.

The Hungarian prime minister also referred to the results of last year’s Hungarian parliamentary election and this year’s European Parliament elections, highlighting that on 13 October there will be local elections across the whole of Hungary. Mr. Orbán asked everyone to draw strength from recent achievements.