Viktor Orbán

Viktor Orbán

Viktor Mihály Orbán (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈorbaːn ˈviktor]) is a Hungarian politician and jurist. He is the current Prime Minister of Hungary, a position he has held since 2010. He also previously 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. On 19 November 2016, Orbán surpassed István Bethlen as the 3rd longest-serving Prime Minister in Hungarian history
Viktor Orbán
Viktor Orbán 2016-02-17.jpg
Prime Minister of Hungary
Assumed office
29 May 2010
President László Sólyom
Pál Schmitt
László Kövér (Acting)
János Áder
Deputy Tibor Navracsics
Zsolt Semjén
Preceded by Gordon Bajnai
In office
6 July 1998 – 27 May 2002
President Árpád Göncz
Ferenc Mádl
Preceded by Gyula Horn
Succeeded by Péter Medgyessy
Member of the National Assembly
Assumed office
2 May 1990
Personal details
Born Viktor Mihály Orbán
31 May 1963 
Székesfehérvár, Hungary
Political party Fidesz
Spouse(s) Anikó Lévai (1986–present)
Children Ráhel
Alma mater Eötvös Loránd University
Pembroke College, Oxford
Website Official website

 Born in Székesfehérvár, Orbán studied law at Eötvös Loránd University, graduating in 1987. He briefly studied political science at Pembroke College, Oxford before entering politics in the wake of the Autumn of Nations at the head of a reformist student movement—the Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége (“Alliance of Young Democrats”), 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. Following the transition to democracy in 1990, he was elected to the National Assembly and functioned as leader of Fidesz’s parliamentary caucus until 1994. Under his leadership, Orbán shifted Fidesz away from its original classical liberal, integrationist platform toward center-right national conservatism. After Fidesz attained a parliamentary plurality in the 1998 elections, Orbán governed the country 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 PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s “Őszöd speech”, saw Orbán reelected to the premiership in 2010 in a landslide coalition victory (with the Christian Democrats). At the helm of a parliamentary supermajority, Orbán’s cabinet spearheaded major constitutional and legislative reforms, which drew criticism from opposition parties and foreign observers. Fidesz retained its supermajority in the 2014 elections, though by-elections have reduced this to a simple majority since.

Orbán’s social conservatism, soft Euroscepticism and advocacy of what he calls “illiberal democracy” have attracted significant international attention. Politico states that his political philosophy “echoes the resentments of what were once the peasant and working classes” by promoting an “uncompromising defense of national sovereignty and a transparent distrust of Europe’s ruling establishments”. He is considered one of the most influential leaders in the EU, and a “talisman of Europe’s mainstream right”.

Early life

Orbán was born on 31 May 1963 in Székesfehérvár into a rural middle-class family, as the eldest son of entrepreneur and agronomist Győző Orbán (b. 1940) and special educator and speech therapist Erzsébet Sípos. He has also two younger brothers, entrepreneurs Győző, Jr. (b. 1965) and Áron (b. 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 finished his elementary studies there and Vértesacsa. In 1977 his family moved permanently to Székesfehérvár.

He graduated from Blanka Teleki High School of 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 Budapest to his job 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 Hegelian political philosopher Zbigniew Pelczynski. 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, his political views radically changed during the military service, formerly he considered himself as a “naive and devoted supporter” of the Communist regime.

Early career (1988–98)

Gábor Fodor and Orbán at the Szárszó meeting of 1993. Fodor soon quit Fidesz.
Gábor Fodor and Orbán at the Szárszó meeting of 1993. Fodor soon quit Fidesz.

In March 1988, Orbán was one of the founding members of Fidesz (originally an acronym for Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége, English: Alliance of Young Democrats) and served as its first spokesperson. The first members of the party, including Orbán, were mostly students from the Bibó István College for Advanced Studies, who opposed the Communist regime. In the college, Orbán edited social science journal Századvég (“End of Century”) and also one of the key figures among the radical students. On 16 June 1989, Orbán gave a speech in Heroes’ Square, Budapest, on the occasion of the reburial of Imre Nagy and other national martyrs of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. In his speech he demanded free elections and the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The speech brought him wide national and political acclaim. In summer 1989 he took part in the Opposition Roundtable Talks, representing Fidesz alongside László Kövér.

Orbán in 1997
Orbán in 1997

Returning home from Oxford, he was elected Member of Parliament from his party’s Pest County Regional List during the 1990 parliamentary election. He was appointed leader of the Fidesz’s parliamentary group, serving in this capacity until the end of the parliamentary term in 1994. Meanwhile, on 18 April 1993, he became the first president of Fidesz, replacing the national board that had served as a collective leadership since its founding. Under his leadership, Fidesz gradually transformed from a radical liberal student organization to a center-right people’s party. The conservative turn caused a severe split in the membership. Several members left the party, including Péter Molnár, Gábor Fodor and Zsuzsanna Szelényi. Fodor and others later joined the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), initially a strong alliance of Fidesz, but later political opponents.

During the 1994 parliamentary election, Fidesz barely jumped over the 5% threshold. Orbán became MP from his party’s Fejér County Regional List. He served as chairman of the Committee on European Integration Affairs between 1994 and 1998. He was also a member of the Immunity, Incompatibility and Credentials Committee for a short time in 1995. Under his presidency, Fidesz adopted “Hungarian Civic Party” (Magyar Polgári Párt) to its shortened name in 1995. His party gradually became dominant in the right-wing of the political spectrum, while the former ruling conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) had lost much of its support. Since April 1996, Orbán was chairman of the Hungarian national committee of the New Atlantic Initiative (NAI).

In September 1992, Orbán was elected vice chairman of the Liberal International. In November 2000, however, Fidesz left the Liberal International and joined the European People’s Party. During the time, Orbán worked hard to unite the center-right parties in Hungary. At the EPP’s Congress in Estoril in October 2002, he was elected Vice President, holding the office until 2012.

First premiership (1998–2002)

In 1998, Orbán formed a successful coalition with the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and the Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party (FKGP) and won the 1998 parliamentary elections with 42% of the national vote. Thus, Viktor Orbán became the second youngest Prime Minister of Hungary at 35 (after András Hegedüs), serving between 1998 and 2002.

The new government immediately launched a radical reform of state administration, reorganizing ministries and creating a super-ministry for the economy. In addition, the boards of the social security funds and centralized social security payments were dismissed. Following the German model, Orbán strengthened the prime minister’s office and named a new minister to oversee the work of his Cabinet. In the process thousands of civil servants were replaced (no distinction is made between political and civil servant posts, resulting in a strong “winner takes all” practice). The overall direction was towards centralized control.

Viktor Orbán with Tamás Deutsch in 2000
Viktor Orbán with Tamás Deutsch in 2000

Despite vigorous protests from the opposition parties, in February the government decided that plenary sessions of the unicameral National Assembly would be held only every third week. As a result, according to opposition arguments, parliament’s legislative efficiency and ability to supervise the government were reduced. In late March, the government tried to replace the National Assembly rule that requires a two-thirds majority vote with one of a simple majority, but the Constitutional Court ruled this unconstitutional.

The year saw only minor changes in top government officials. Two of Orbán’s state secretaries in the prime minister’s office had to resign in May due to their implication in a bribery scandal involving the US military manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. Before bids on a major jet-fighter contract, the two secretaries, along with 32 other deputies of Orbán’s party, had sent a letter to two US senators to lobby for the appointment of a Budapest-based Lockheed manager to be the US ambassador to Hungary. On 31 August, the head of the Tax Office also resigned, succumbing to protracted attacks by the opposition on his earlier, allegedly suspicious, business dealings. The tug-of-war between the Budapest city council and the government continued over the government’s decision in late 1998 to cancel two major urban projects: the construction of a new national theatre and of the fourth subway line.

Relations between the Fidesz-led coalition government and the opposition worsened in the National Assembly, where the two seemed to have abandoned all attempts at consensus-seeking politics. The government pushed to swiftly replace the heads of key institutions (such as the Hungarian National Bank chairman, the Budapest City Chief Prosecutor and the Hungarian Radio) with partisan figures. Although the opposition resisted, for example by delaying their appointing of members of the supervising boards, the government ran the institutions without the stipulated number of directors. In a similar vein, Orbán failed to show up for question time in parliament, for periods of up to 10 months. His statements of the kind that “The parliament works without opposition too…” also contributed to the image of an arrogant and aggressive governance.

A later report in March by the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists criticized the Hungarian government for improper political influence in the media as the country’s public service broadcaster teetered close to bankruptcy.

Numerous political scandals during 2001 led to a de facto, if not actual, breakup of the coalition that held power in Budapest. A bribery scandal in February triggered a wave of allegations and several prosecutions against the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKGP). The affair resulted in the ousting of József Torgyán from both the FKGP presidency and the top post in the Ministry of Agriculture. The FKGP disintegrated and more than a dozen of its MPs joined the government faction.


Orbán’s economic policy was aimed at cutting taxes and social insurance contributions over four years while reducing inflation and unemployment. Among the new government’s first measures was to abolish university tuition fees and reintroduce universal maternity benefits. The government announced its intention to continue the Socialist-Liberal stabilization program and pledged to narrow the budget deficit, which had grown to 4.5% of GDP. The previous Cabinet had almost completed the privatization of government-run industries and had launched a comprehensive pension reform. However, the Socialists had avoided two major socioeconomic issues – reform of health care and agriculture, these remained to be tackled by Orbán’s government.

Economic successes included a drop in inflation from 15% in 1998 to 10.0% in 1999, 9.8% in 2000 and 7.8% in 2001. GDP growth rates were fairly steady: 4.4% in 1999, 5.2% in 2000, and 3.8% in 2001. The fiscal deficit fell from 3.9% in 1999, to 3.5% in 2000 and 3.4% in 2001 and the ratio of the national debt decreased to 54% of GDP. Under the Orbán cabinet there were realistic hopes that Hungary would be able to join the Eurozone by 2009. However, negotiations for entry into the European Union slowed in the fall of 1999 after the EU included six more countries (in addition to the original six) in the accession discussions. Orbán repeatedly criticized the EU for its delay.

Mikuláš Dzurinda, Viktor Orbán and Günter Verheugen open the Mária Valéria Bridge across the Danube connecting the Slovak town of Štúrovo with Esztergom in Hungary.
Mikuláš Dzurinda, Viktor Orbán and Günter Verheugen open the Mária Valéria Bridge across the Danube connecting the Slovak town of Štúrovo with Esztergom in Hungary.

Orbán also came under criticism for pushing through an unprecedented two-year budget and for failing to curb inflation, which only dropped a half point, from 10% in 1999 to 9.5% in 2000, despite the tight monetary policy of the Central Bank. However, investments continued to grow.

Foreign policy

In March 1999, after Russian objections were overruled, Hungary joined NATO along with Czech Republic and Poland. This ended Hungarian efforts to gain security in post-communist Europe. The Hungarian membership to NATO demanded its involvement in Yugoslavia’s Kosovo crisis and modernization of its army. NATO membership also gave a blow to the economy because of a trade embargo imposed on Yugoslavia.

Hungary attracted international media attention in 1999 for passing the “status law” concerning estimated three-million ethnic Hungarian minorities in neighbouring Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The law aimed to provide education, health benefits and employment rights to those, and was said to heal the negative effects of the disastrous 1920 Trianon Treaty. Governments in neighbouring states, particularly Romania, claimed to be insulted by the law, which they saw as an interference in their domestic affairs. The proponents of the status law countered that several of the countries criticizing the law themselves have similar constructs to provide benefits for their own minorities. Romania acquiesced after amendments following a December 2001 agreement between Orbán and Romanian prime minister Adrian Năstase; Slovakia accepted the law after further concessions made by the new government after the 2002 elections.

Orbán with George W. Bush in the White House (2001).
Orbán with George W. Bush in the White House (2001).

In opposition (2002–10)

The level of public support for political parties generally stagnated, even with general elections coming in 2002. Fidesz and the main opposition Hungarian Socialist Party ran neck and neck in the opinion polls for most of the year, both attracting about 26% of the electorate. According to a September 2001 poll by the Gallup organization, however, support for a joint Fidesz – Hungarian Democratic Forum party list would run up to 33% of the voters, with the Socialists drawing 28% and other opposition parties 3% each. Meanwhile, public support for the FKGP plunged from 14% in 1998 to 1% in 2001. As many as 40% of the voters remained undecided, however. Although the Socialists had picked their candidate for prime minister — former finance minister Péter Medgyessy — the opposition largely remained unable to increase its political support.

The dark horse of the election was the radical nationalist Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP), with its leader István Csurka’s radical rhetoric. MIÉP could not be ruled out as the key to a new term for Orbán and his party, should they be forced into a coalition after the 2002 elections.

The elections of 2002 were the most heated Hungary had experienced in more than a decade, and an unprecedented cultural-political division formed in the country. In the event, Viktor Orbán’s group lost the April parliamentary elections to the opposition Hungarian Socialist Party, which set up a coalition with its longtime ally, the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats. Turnout was a record-high 73.5%.

Beyond these parties, only deputies of the Hungarian Democratic Forum made it into the National Assembly. The populist Independent Smallholders’ Party and the right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) lost all their seats. Thus, the number of political parties in the new assembly was reduced from six to four.

MIÉP challenged the government’s legitimacy, demanded a recount, complained of election fraud, and generally kept the country in election mode until the October municipal elections. The socialist-controlled Central Elections Committee ruled that a recount was unnecessary, a position supported by observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, whose only substantive criticism of the election conduct was that the state television carried a consistent bias in favour of Fidesz.

Orbán received the Freedom Award of the American Enterprise Institute and the New Atlantic Initiative (2001), the Polak Award (2001), the Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit (2001), the “Förderpreis Soziale Marktwirtschaft” (Price for the Social Market Economy, 2002) and the Mérite Européen prize (2004). In April 2004, he received the Papal Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great.

In the 2004 European Parliament election, the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) was heavily defeated by the opposition conservative Fidesz. Fidesz gained 47.4% of the vote and 12 of Hungary’s 24 seats.

Orbán and Hans-Gert Pöttering in 2006.
Orbán and Hans-Gert Pöttering in 2006.

Some consider the election of Dr. László Sólyom as the President of Hungary to be the supernumerary fulcrum of the party. Sólyom was endorsed by Védegylet, an NGO consisting of people from the whole political spectrum. Sólyom’s activity does not entirely overlap with the conservative ideals, and he championed elements of both political wings with a selective and conscious choice of values.

Orbán and Romanian PresidentTraian Băsescu in 2008.
Orbán and Romanian PresidentTraian Băsescu in 2008.

Orbán was the Fidesz candidate for the parliamentary election in 2006. Fidesz and its new-old candidate failed again to gain a majority in this election, which initially put Orbán’s future political career as the leader of Fidesz in question.However, on fighting with socialist-liberal coalition, Orbán’s position has been solidified again, and he was elected president of Fidesz yet again for another term in May 2007.

On 17 September 2006, an audio recording surfaced from a closed-door Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) meeting which was held on 26 May 2006, in which Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány made a speech, notable for its obscene language. On 1 November, Orbán and his party announced their plans to stage several large-scale demonstrations across Hungary on the anniversary of the Soviet suppression of the 1956 Revolution. The events were intended to serve as a memorial to the victims of the Soviet invasion and a protest against police brutality during the 23 October unrest in Budapest. Planned events included a candlelight vigil march across Budapest. However, the demonstrations were small and petered out by the end of the year. A new round of demonstrations expected in the spring of 2007 did not materialize.

On 1 October 2006, Fidesz won the municipal elections, which counterbalanced the MSZP-led government’s power to some extent. Fidesz won 15 of 23 mayoralties in Hungary’s largest cities—although it narrowly lost Budapest to the Liberal Party—and majorities in 18 of 20 regional assemblies.

A referendum on revoking government reforms which introduced doctor fees per visit and medical fees paid per number of days spent in hospital as well, as tuition fees in higher education, took place in Hungary on 9 March 2008. Hungarians usually call this popular vote the social referendum. The referendum was initiated by opposition party Fidesz against the ruling MSZP. The procedure for the referendum started on 23 October 2006, when Orbán announced they would hand in seven questions to the National Electorate Office, three of which (on abolishing co-payments, daily fees and college tuition fees) were officially approved on 17 December 2007 and called on 24 January 2008. It was assumed likely that the referendum will pass, but it was uncertain whether turnout would be high enough to make it valid;polls indicated about 40% turnout with 80% in favour of rescinding the three reforms.

In the 2009 European Parliament election, Fidesz won by a large margin, garnering 56.36% of votes and 14 of Hungary’s 22 seats.

Second premiership (2010–present)

Press conference following the meeting of leaders of Visegrád Group, Germany and France, 6 March 2013
Press conference following the meeting of leaders of Visegrád Group, Germany and France, 6 March 2013
"Hungarians won’t live according to the commands of foreign powers", Orbán told the crowd at Kossuth square, 15 March 2012
“Hungarians won’t live according to the commands of foreign powers”, Orbán told the crowd at Kossuth square, 15 March 2012

During the April 2010 parliamentary elections Orbán’s party won 52.73% of the popular vote, with a two-thirds majority of seats, which gave Orbán enough authority to change the Constitution.As a result, Orbán’s government added an article in support of traditional marriage in the constitution, and a controversial electoral reform which lowered the number of seats in the Parliament of Hungary from 386 to 199.

In his second term as Prime Minister, he garnered controversy for his statements against liberal democracy, for proposing an “internet tax”, and for his perceived corruption. His second premiership has seen numerous protests against his government, including one in Budapest in November 2014 against the proposed “internet tax”.

In terms of domestic legislation, Orbán’s government implemented a flat tax on personal income. This tax is set at 16%. Orbán has called his government “pragmatic”, citing restrictions on early retirement in the police force and military, making welfare more transparent, and a central banking law that “gives Hungary more independence from the European Central Bank”.

After the 2014 parliamentary election, Fidesz won a majority, garnering 133 of the 199 seats in the National Assembly. While he won a large majority, he garnered 44.54% of the national vote, down from 52.73% in 2010.

During the 2015 European migrant crisis, Orbán ordered the erection of the Hungary-Serbia barrier to block entry of illegal immigrants so that Hungary could register all the migrants arriving from Serbia, which is the country’s responsibility under the Dublin Regulation, a European Union law.

Orbán questioned Nord Stream II, a new Russia-Germany natural gas pipeline. He said he wants to hear a “reasonable argument why South Stream was bad and Nord Stream is not”. “South Stream” refers to the Balkan pipeline cancelled by Russia in December 2014 after obstacles from the EU.

Political views

José Manuel Barroso, Stavros Lambrinidis, and Orbán in January 2011
José Manuel Barroso, Stavros Lambrinidis, and Orbán in January 2011
Orbán and Angela Merkel, Congress of the European People's Party in Madrid, 21 October 2015
Orbán and Angela Merkel, Congress of the European People’s Party in Madrid, 21 October 2015

Orbán’s blend of soft Euroscepticism, populism, and national conservatism has seen him compared to politicians and political parties as diverse as David Cameron’s Tories, Jarosław Kaczyński’s PiS, Marine Le Pen’s Front National, Spain’s Podemos, Matteo Renzi, Donald Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Vladimir Putin. According to Politico, Orbán political philosophy “echoes the resentments of what were once the peasant and working classes” by promoting an “uncompromising defense of national sovereignty and a transparent distrust of Europe’s ruling establishments”.

Orbán is seen as having laid out his political views most concretely in a widely cited 2014 public address at Băile Tușnad (known in Hungary as the Tusnádfürdői beszéd, or “Tusnádfürdő speech”). In the address, Orbán repudiated the classical liberal theory of the state as a free association of atomistic individuals. In his view, the state is the means of organizing, invigorating, or even constructing the national community. Though this kind of state respects traditionally liberal concepts like civic rights, it is properly called “illiberal” because it views the community, and not the individual, as the basic political unit. In practice, Orbán claimed, such a state should promote national self-sufficiency, national sovereignty, familialism, full employment, and the preservation of cultural heritage, and cited countries such as Turkey, Singapore, Russia, and China as models.

Orbán’s second and third 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, some critics have described him as “irredentist”, “populist”, “authoritarian”,”Putinist”, as a “strongman”, and as a “dictator”.Other commentators, however, have 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 wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Europe’s response is madness. We must acknowledge that the European Union’s misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation”. He also demanded an official EU list of “safe countries” to which migrants can be returned. According to Orbán, Turkey should be considered a safe third country.

Personal life

Orbán married jurist Anikó Lévai in 1986. They have five children, including retired professional footballer Gáspár, who played for Ferenc Puskás Football Academy in 2014. His first grandchild, Aliz (the daughter of Orbán’s eldest daughter Ráhel and entrepreneur István Tiborcz) was born in June 2016. Orbán is a member of the Calvinist Hungarian Reformed Church, while his wife is Roman Catholic. He is very fond of sports, especially of football; he was a signed player of the Felcsút football team, and as a result he also appears in Football Manager 2006.

Orbán has played football from his early childhood. He was a professional player with Felcsút FC. After finishing his football career, he became the main financiers of the Hungarian football and his hometown’s club Felcsút FC, later renamed Puskás Akadémia FC. He had a prominent role in the foundation of Ferenc Puskás Football Academy in Felcsút creating one of the most modern training facilities for young Hungarian footballers. He also played an important role in establishing the annually organised international youth cup, the Puskás Cup, at Pancho Arena, in Felcsút. His only son, Gáspár, learns and trains there. FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited the facilities at the Puskás Academy in 2009. Blatter, together with the widow of Ferenc Puskás, as well as the founder of the Academy, Viktor Orbán, announced the creation of the new FIFA Puskás Award during that visit. He played the bit part of a footballer in the Hungarian family film Szegény Dzsoni és Árnika (1983).

Controversy and criticisms

Orbán’s critics have included domestic and foreign leaders (including United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Presidents of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker), intergovernmental organisations, nongovernmental organisations, and the press. Specifically, he has been accused of pursuing anti-democratic reforms; reducing the independence of Hungary’s press, judiciary and central bank; amending Hungary’s constitution to prevent amendments to Fidesz-backed legislation; and of cronyism and nepotism. For example, he has been accused of pork-barreling by building a 4000-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”. Six years later, in 2006, Orbán stated at an international conference that the European Union should not give any moral help to the Hungarian MSzP-SzDSz government due to their “lies and cheats” (referring to the Őszödi speech). In response, some government officials claimed that Orbán had “attacked his own country” and called him a traitor of his homeland. Orbán later denied he was talking about aid monies in his speech.

In April 2001, Magyar Hírlap published a letter by a reader that stated, “the killing of Orbán would do good to our nation”. Also that month on TV channel RTL Klub, reporter Tamás Frei interviewed an alleged Russian hitman, asking him for how much money he would kill the Hungarian prime minister (then Orbán). Right-wingers thought it was a provocative question. Later it turned out that the interviewed person was not a real hitman, but an actor paid by Frei. After this scandal, RTL Klub apologised to Orbán, and the Luxembourgian owners of the channel began an inquiry. Frei subsequently lost his job.

Hungarian-American business magnate and political activist George Soros criticized Orbán’s handling of the European migrant crisis in 2015, saying: “His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.”

In 2007, Fidesz was accused of communism and following the footsteps of communist dictator János Kádár. A YouTube video listed various Fidesz politicians who were formerly members of the communist dictatorship’s party MSZMP. Controversy re-erupted in 2012 when the Fidesz-led government put into the Hungarian Constitution that MSzMP was a criminal organisation and listed their crimes against the Hungarian people (this was the first time since the fall of communism these were stated in law). The charge in both cases came from the left-wing MSzP, who claim themselves the legal heir of MSzMP and inherited MSzMP’s party fortune. Fidesz former economic director and a powerful media oligarch, Lajos Simicska, stated on 8 March 2015 that he might have been an informer for the communist secret service. Although thousands of files pertaining to secret service agents were destroyed by the communist government, Simicska speculated that Russia might have extensive copies of Hungarian secret service documents containing the Orbán’s records which it might have used to blackmail him into cooperation. Orbán rejected allegations as “absurd and ridiculous”, and recounted that he was accused of being an informant many times beforeward, and all these allegiations had been false. 

Books published in Hungarian

  • Hollós, János – Kondor, Katalin: Szerda reggel – Rádiós beszélgetések Orbán Viktor miniszterelnökkel, 1998. szeptember – 2000. december, ISBN 963-933-732-3
  • Hollós, János – Kondor, Katalin: Szerda reggel – Rádiós beszélgetések Orbán Viktor miniszterelnökkel, 2001–2002, ISBN 963-933-761-7
  • A történelem főutcáján – Magyarország 1998–2002, Orbán Viktor miniszterelnök beszédei és beszédrészletei, Magyar Egyetemi Kiadó, ISBN 963-863-831-1
  • 20 év – Beszédek, írások, interjúk, 1986–2006, Heti Válasz Kiadó, ISBN 963-946-122-9
  • Egy az ország. Helikon Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 2007. (translated into Polish as Ojczyzna jest jedna in 2009)
  • Rengéshullámok. Helikon Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 2010.

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