Orbán's rejection of liberal democracy draws fire
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's speech on Saturday, in which he said Hungary is not a liberal democracy and that freedom is not the core value of the state, drew criticism today from the liberal opposition, while the far-right Jobbik party agreed with some aspects of the speech.
The speech, given at a gathering in Romania, drew worldwide attention after the Prime Minister questioned the value of liberal democracy. It seemed to justify and explain some of the current policies of the government run by Orbán's Fidesz Party.
"The new state that we are building in Hungary today is not a liberal state. It doesn't deny liberalism's basic values, such as freedom, but doesn't make it its core element. It uses a particular, national approach," Orbán was quoted as saying.
“The world today tries to understand systems that are not western in nature and not liberal, and maybe they are not even democratic systems, and yet they are successful, like Singapore, China, India, Russia and Turkey," he explained. "Breaking away from the accepted dogmas and ideologies, we will seek out and hammer out a new form of a Hungarian state that could make our community a success for decades to come in the global race."
The Prime Minister also said that the new state would be based on Christian values, and would be a "work-based state" (a term that some also translated as a "workfare state"). He said the government would seek to "defend national assets," often by buying them, and by seeking to limit foreign influences on the economy. He also expressed the goal of balancing trade with the EU by building trade with other parts of the world, so that trade with the EU drops from around two thirds to 50% of Hungary's foreign trade.
The far-right Jobbik party, which has said that social services should only go to those who work, said they agreed with the idea of a "work-based state".
The Socialist party, said that “a state that is not organized around freedom, sooner or later leaves democracy behind.”
Former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány's Democratic Coalition criticized the speech, noting that “Viktor Orbán is now saying that a fascist and freedom-denying state organization is the example to be followed.”
The leftist Együtt-PM said that “the Hungarian state is not a state for every Hungarian anymore, but a state for the thin beneficiary layer.”
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