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"In the head of Viktor Orban", this herald of illiberalism

The journalist Amélie Poinssot draws the portrait of the strong man of Budapest, seeking to understand how he managed to embody the dreams and fears of Hungarians.

By Marc Semo Posted today at 06:15

Time to Reading 2 min.

Subscribers article

Book. There is an enigma Viktor Orban. Winner four times – including three consecutive – legislative elections, the Hungarian prime minister has become the very symbol within the European Union of "illiberal democracy". He was once a young Liberal dissident. His entry into the political arena dates back to June 1989, in the last months of a beleaguered socialist regime when, during the great "re-enactment" ceremony of the martyrs of the 1956 revolution, he took the floor to demand the departure of the Soviet troops. The leader of Fidesz was one of the hopes of a post-communist reformism, open to Europe. But, having returned to power after eight years of opposition, he had become a nationalist and conservative autocrat. –

"The constancy of Viktor Orban since 2010 suggests that there is an ideological basis for him", notes the journalist Amelie Poinssot, in her very enlightening book on the strongman of Budapest, pointing out how the latter has profoundly modified the institutions of his country, put in cup set by his party. But she also acknowledges that the question arises of the sincerity of her beliefs and that one can wonder if he has not, above all, "An immoderate taste of power that leads him to embrace any cause as long as it brings him voices".

The "magyaritude" above all

This son of a relatively modest family grew up in a provincial and conservative Hungary under a communist veneer. Hence the themes of his commitment: the "magyaritude", that is to say the Hungarian identity above all, and the hostility towards a Western Europe perceived as the place of all perditions.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Hungary, Viktor Orban cares for identity Catholicism

Claiming to have blocked the flow of migrants in 2015, he claimed: "If I had not done so, we would be like a refugee camp, a kind of Marseille from Central Europe. " Viktor Orban knows how to embody the dreams, and especially the fears, of his fellow citizens. In the first place, that of the disappearance of the Hungarian people, linguistically isolated from its Slav or Latin neighbors, while the country depopulates with a birth rate at half-mast and emigration to the West.

It also plays on the frustrations of history and the still intense trauma of the Treaty of Trianon imposed after the First World War, which amputated the Hungary, become independent, of 70% of its territory and a third of its population. Hence the rehabilitation of at least ambiguous figures of the inter-war period, such as Admiral Horthy, anti-communist mad and anti-Semitic assumed, who was regent of Hungary between 1920 and 1944.

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