Orbán sees shift to illiberal Christian democracy in 2019 European vote

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at Băile Tușnad in Romania. [@panyiszabolcs Twitter]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Saturday (28 July) that European parliament elections next year could bring about a shift toward illiberal “Christian democracy” in the European Union that would end the era of multiculturalism.

In an annual speech to ethnic Hungarians in Băile Tușnad in neighbouring Romania, Orbán portrayed the 2019 European parliamentary vote as decisive for the future of Europe.

He said he would make immigration a key theme in the vote.

“Europe’s leaders are inadequate, they are unable to defend Europe from immigration,” he went on.

Referring to the ethnically Hungarian area of Romania where he was speaking, Orbán said it would “still exist when all of Europe has been invaded by Islam”.

He said the Western political “elite” of the EU had failed to protect the bloc from Muslim immigration and it was time for them to go. “The European elite is visibly nervous,” Orbán told hundreds of cheering supporters.

“Their big goal to transform Europe, to ship it into a post-Christian era, and into an era when nations disappear – this process could be undermined in the European elections. And it is our elementary interest to stop this transformation.”

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Orbán said the European parliamentary vote must prove that there was an alternative to liberal democracy, which he said worked in undemocratic ways in Western Europe by being intolerant of alternative views.

“Christian democracy is not liberal…It is illiberal, if you like,” Orbán said.

Unlike liberal democracy, he said, Christian democracy rejects multiculturalism and immigration while being anti-communist and standing for Christian values.

“We are facing a big moment: we are saying goodbye not simply to liberal democracy … but to the 1968 elite,” he said, alluding to an international wave of leftist, liberal protest that upended the ruling conservative order in many countries.

Orbán also sharpened his criticisms of Brussels institutions, branding the European Commission a “symbol of failure.”

“The European Commission is going, we are coming,” he said.

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On Friday, Orbán welcomed the founding of the anti-EU Movement group by Steven Bannon, a far-right former aide to US President Donald Trump, to boost the nationalist, anti-immigrant vote for the European Parliament next year.

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Orbán’s Fidesz party, which firmly leads opinion polls, has also demonised Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros and the liberal charity groups he supports. Fidesz has pushed through legislation to restrict the activity of civil society groups that it accuses of encouraging illegal migration.

Orbán accuses Soros of promoting mass immigration to undermine Europe’s Christian culture. Soros denies this.

Referring to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose government has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, Orbán said: “You can criticise Erdoğan’s system but good stability in Turkey is good for us.”

“Today, the whole safety of the Carpathian Basin and Europe lies on the stability of Turkey, Israel and Egypt, who can stop the influx of Muslims,” he said.

He slammed the EU’s policy of sanctions against Russia and called the bloc’s policy towards Mocow “primitive”.

Orbán has also built warm relations with Russia, which is building a nuclear plant in Hungary, and repeatedly criticised EU sanctions against Russia imposed after its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.

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