Week 38: Villain – Victor Orban

by Jackie_South on September 22, 2015

Hungarian_villainThis week, the Hungarian premier wins our award for the greatest villain of the last seven days

A number of European nations have been found wanting in their response to the refugee crisis, including of course the United Kingdom. In contrast, Germany has become a paragon of virtue in its willingness to house and support those fleeing war and persecution.

But the worst response has clearly come from Hungary. Whilst they are not alone in putting in measures to control the entry of refugees – Croatia and Slovenia have also tried to close borders – Hungary has gone to extreme lengths to do so. It was their police using tear gas against refugees, they that put up miles of razor-wire fences along their Serbian borders, they that have passed emergency legislation allowing police to fire rubber bullets at people whose only crime is to flee death.

All of course not to stop people who want to settle in Hungary, but to stop people who merely want to pass through to get to a more welcoming and more affluent Germany.

It has not been without some elements of prattishness: at first there were gaps in the fence along the 110 mile border with Serbia because they needed to let trains through. But whilst you can laugh at the incompetence we should all shudder at the violence, the hatred and the vitriol. And at the centre of it all lies Victor Orban.

Victor Orban is a man with a fascinating political trajectory, although it has clearly been in one direction. At secondary school, he was the secretary of the communist youth organisation. In the 1989 revolution, he was a student radical. In 1992, he became vice-chair of the Liberal International. In his first premiership (1998-2002) he pulled his party Fidesz from the European liberals to join the conservatives, initially the Christian Democrat European People’s Party. By the time he had regained the premiership in 2010, Fidesz had become the continent’s most powerful populist far-right party.

Orban is not simply reacting to his country’s concerns about the refugee crisis. He is deliberately whipping it up and taking extreme measures to cash in politically. Orban is a cynical politician, happy not only to ignore the horrors that the refugees face but to deliberately create new ones to exploit the situation and to foster hatred to bolster his own position.

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