|“||Just because a state is not liberal, it can still be a democracy. And in fact we also had to and did state that societies that are built on the state organisation principle of liberal democracy will probably be incapable of maintaining their global competitiveness in the upcoming decades and will instead probably be scaled down unless they are capable of changing themselves significantly.||„|
|~ Viktor Orbán, July 2014|
Viktor Mihály Orbán (May 31st, 1963) is a Hungarian politician serving as Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010. He also served as Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002. He is the present leader of the national conservative Fidesz party, a post he has held since 2003 and, previously, from 1993 to 2000.
Orbán was born on 31 May 1963 in Székesfehérvár into a rural middle-class family, as the eldest son of the entrepreneur and agronomist Győző Orbán (born 1940) and the special educator and speech therapist, Erzsébet Sípos (born 1944). He has two younger brothers, both entrepreneurs, Győző, Jr. (born 1965) and Áron (born 1977). His paternal grandfather, Mihály Orbán, practiced farming and animal husbandry. Orbán spent his childhood in two nearby villages, Alcsútdoboz and Felcsút in Fejér County; he attended school there and in Vértesacsa. In 1977, his family moved permanently to Székesfehérvár.
Orbán graduated from Blanka Teleki High School in Székesfehérvár in 1981, where he studied English. After completing two years of military service, he studied law at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, writing his master's thesis on the Polish Solidarity movement. After graduation in 1987, he lived in Szolnok for two years, commuting to his job in Budapest as a sociologist at the Management Training Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
In 1989, Orbán received a scholarship from the Soros Foundation to study political science at Pembroke College, Oxford. His personal tutor was the Hegelian political philosopher Zbigniew Pełczyński. In January 1990, he left Oxford and returned to Hungary to run for a seat in Hungary's first post-communist parliament.
At the age of 14 and 15, he was a secretary of the communist youth organisation, KISZ, of his secondary grammar school (KISZ membership was mandatory for university admittance). Orbán said in a later interview that his political views had radically changed during the military service: earlier he had considered himself a "naive and devoted supporter" of the communist regime.
He briefly studied political science at Pembroke College, Oxford, before entering politics in the wake of the Autumn of Nations at the head of the reformist student movement Alliance of Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége), the nascent Fidesz. He became a nationally known politician after giving an address at the 1989 reburial of Imre Nagy and other martyrs of the 1956 revolution, in which he openly demanded that Soviet troops withdraw from the country.
After the transition to democracy in 1990, he was elected to the National Assembly and served as leader of Fidesz's parliamentary caucus until 1993. Under his leadership, Fidesz shifted away from its original centre-right, classical liberal, pro-European integration platform toward right-wing national conservatism. After Fidesz won a plurality of seats in the National Assembly in the 1998 elections, Orbán became Prime Minister for four years at the head of a right-wing coalition government.
Fidesz narrowly lost the 2002 and 2006 elections to the Socialist Party, and Orbán spent eight years as the leader of the opposition. The Socialists' rising unpopularity, exacerbated by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's "Őszöd speech", led to Orbán's re-election to the premiership in 2010 in a landslide victory (in coalition with the Christian Democrats). At the helm of a parliamentary supermajority, Orbán's cabinet spearheaded major constitutional and legislative reforms. Fidesz retained its supermajority in the 2014 and 2018 elections.
Orbán's second, and especially his third and fourth premierships have been the subject of significant international controversy, and reception of his political views is mixed. The 2011 constitutional changes enacted under his leadership were, in particular, accused of centralizing legislative and executive power, curbing civil liberties, restricting freedom of speech, and weakening the Constitutional Court and judiciary. For these reasons, critics have described him as "irredentist", "right-wing populist", "authoritarian", "autocratic", "Putinist", as a "strongman", and as a "dictator". Orbán's social conservatism, national conservatism, soft Euroscepticism and advocacy of what he describes as an "illiberal state" have attracted significant international attention. Some observers have described his government as authoritarian or autocratic.
Other commentators, however, noted that the European migrant crisis, coupled with continued Islamist terrorism in the European Union, have popularized Orbán's nationalist, protectionist policies among European conservative leaders. "Once ostracized" by Europe's political elite, writes Politico, Orbán "is now the talisman of Europe's mainstream right". As other Visegrád Group leaders, Orbán opposes any compulsory EU long-term quota on redistribution of migrants.
He was accused of pork barrel politics for building a 4,000-seat stadium in the village in which he grew up, Felcsút, at a distance of some 20 ft from his country house.
Some opposition parties and critics also consider Orbán an opponent of European integration. In 2000, opposition parties MSZP and SZDSZ and the left-wing press presented Orbán's comment that "there's life outside the EU" as proof of his anti-Europeanism and sympathies with the radical right. In the same press conference, Orbán clarified that "[w]e're trying to make the accession fast because it may boost the growth of Hungary's economy".
He has also frequently made statements about Europe’s “Christian identity” and once claimed “Muslims threaten Europe’s Christian identity”.