Daniel Nolan is a Budapest-based award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster from Manchester, England. His work on Hungary and CEE has appeared in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle and numerous other outlets. He won a Foreign Press Association Award in 2018 and was named a European Press Prize laureate in 2016 and 2019.
Viktor Orban’s domestic “pro-family” policies made him a champion for the conservatives engaged in the so-called “culture wars”.
Boris Johnson and Viktor Orban share a way of doing politics: they’re both populists craving for the spotlight, ready to exploit in their favour the divisions of their respective societies. They also share an irreverence for the European Union. Johnson was one of the leading figures of the Leave camp, while Orban became a nuisance for Brussels as he kept on defying, time and again, the EU values and policies. The two seem to use the same recipe to consolidate their grip on power, so it only makes sense that their respective oppositions may eventually take similar paths.
Hungary’s plans to become a hub for eastern superpowers were widely mocked after Viktor Orban’s government’s “Eastern Wind” policy had to be renamed “Eastern Opening” after a party official noted that an eastern wind blows things everywhere except to the east. That hilarity turned to anger, however, when it emerged that China plans to build its first ever European university on the banks of the Danube by way of a EUR 1.5bn construction project that will be funded by Hungarian taxpayers.
After years of sparring with Brussels over his rule of law approach, which led to increased isolation for his Fidesz party, Hungary’s Viktor Orban decided to strike back by forging an alliance with Poland’s Law and Justice Party and Italy’s Lega. The plan was to start by setting-up a new party bloc within the European Parliament. However, this may prove to be easier said than done.
Facing political losses at home and in Europe, Viktor Orban also has to handle a devastating third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Hungarian Prime Minister has chosen to turn to Russia and China for help, two countries he has been entreating of late.