Nigel Farage continued to celebrate the authoritarian Hungarian leader's election victory on GB News last night.
Nigel Farage praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his win in Hungarian elections as a ‘big win against the globalists’ on GB News last night.
“Whichever way you look at it, this guy is a strong, popular conservative, national leader and the globalists can’t stand it”, Farage said. Presenter Patrick Christys added that Orban has “been about strong borders, and that’s necessary at the moment.”
Orban has long used nationalistic and bigoted rhetoric against minority groups like LGBT people, the Roma community and refugees. He has a longstanding dislike of George Soros, also a Hungarian, and forced the closure of Soros’ Central European University in Budapest in 2018.
In 2018, Orban said “We must defend Hungary as it is now. We must state that we do not want to be diverse … We do not want our own colour, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others.”
In 2021 his government was found to have hacked into journalists’ mobile phones to surveill them, and Amnesty International and others have criticised Hungary for moving to end the independence of its judiciary.
Orban has also promoted far right tropes like the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory, and in turn been promoted by Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who travelled to Hungary to interview Orban.
Others on the US right have also been taking an interest in Orban’s use of the state to fight a culture war against what some see as ‘cultural disintegration’ in the face of progressive values.
According to the New York Times, US conservatives see in Orban the possibility of bringing illiberal democracy (“a state that rejects pluralism in favor of a narrow set of values”) to the West.
These cultural conservatives believe that since they are losing the cultural battle, but control much of the apparatus of the state, it’s time to use the state to change the culture. It seems like Farage too may see in Orban this enticing possibility.
Farage has long been an admirer of Orban, and was quick to congratulate him for winning a fourth consecutive election. In 2018 he called the Hungarian PM ‘the strongest leader in Europe’.
Vladimir Putin also congratulated Orban for his election victory, as the Guardian reported that there are “signs that European Union authorities will launch a sanctions process against Budapest that is intended to safeguard EU funds at risk from democratic-backsliding member states.”
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also criticised the vote for an absence of a level playing field for the election, which was marred “by the pervasive overlapping of government and ruling coalition’s messaging that blurred the line between state and party, as well as by media bias and opaque campaign funding.”
Farage does not seem to believe that there is any democratic backsliding in Hungary, saying that “I just do not see [distortion of democracy] as being true, as far as the judiciary is concerned.” On the contrary, Farage says Orban “represents the future of Europe.”
If the EU moves to restrict Hungary’s funding, Farage will likely see this as more authoritarianism from an institution he has likened to the Soviet Union. In 2021 he said the EU was trying to bring Hungary “to its knees” in a row over an anti-LGBT law.
Orban clearly prioritises a strong, authoritarian state over the independent institutions and free media necessary for a democratic system to function. It looks like Hungary is headed to a further showdown with the EU, and Orban can count Farage as one of his strongest supporters.
John Lubbock leads on the Right-Watch project at Left Foot Forward