Speaking to our magazine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán summed up what is at stake in Sunday’s parliamentary election: immigration may change the character of Hungary irrevocably; only a united government capable of making decisions will be able to resist pressure from Brussels; today only the national side is able to form such a government in Hungary.
Figyelő: Since 1990 you have been involved in some two dozen nationwide political campaigns. In emotional terms, one feels that this campaign appears to be the tensest of all. Do you agree?
Viktor Orbán: I like campaigns; after all, they are the essence of our profession. Anyone who doesn’t like campaigning doesn’t like this profession. One cannot afford to be oversensitive, and one must also be able to withstand attacks. As we are intellectuals who abandoned our original professions, for us the campaign is also an intellectual challenge: we must both represent our concepts about the future and communicate them to voters; we must simplify complex matters in a way which does not rob them of their truth.
How much do you have to focus on your opponents – of which there are quite a few today?
For me the primary consideration has never been the identity of our opponents: it is the needs of the country. In 2010 also we needed a united, strong government that was capable of taking action. By that time we could clearly see that national bankruptcy was on the horizon, and we had to rectify the errors within the changes in the country’s economic system: we had to take our public utility companies back into Hungarian ownership; we had to increase Hungarian influence in the banking sector; and we had to strengthen the Hungarian economy. Today there is a new challenge, a new threat. That threat is immigration, which could change the character of Hungary irrevocably. Only a united government that is capable of making decisions will be able to resist the pressure from Brussels. Today only the national side is able to form such a government in Hungary.
In the political centre ground, however, Jobbik no longer appears to stand to the right of Fidesz–KDNP.
Clearly Jobbik is trying to dodge around us, and is seeking to manoeuvre itself towards the left. At times this leads to amusing situations, which undermine the credibility of their politicians. People who a few years ago were burning EU flags have now become regular Brusselites. This is about nothing but money and power.
While the governing parties are supported by around 50 per cent of the population, the other parties are struggling to reach the parliamentary threshold. Yet the result is still far from a foregone conclusion. Who is the true political opponent of Fidesz?
We can’t look at Hungarian domestic politics in isolation, divorced from the wider international political context. The effect of the international background varies from age to age. Now, however, we’re living in an era when this external impact on the domestic political scene is extremely strong – and not only in the case of Hungary. Today the international media, Brussels and powerful economic interest groups are trying to ensure that a weak coalition government is elected in Hungary. It is only with such a government that the influence of Brussels can be fully enforced. And here we’re not only talking about immigration. Of course they would immediately open the borders to migrants, but they would also make decisions which would destroy the country’s competitiveness. If the Left enters government in any form, household utility bills will increase – as will taxes. Hungarian businesses are especially at risk, as their taxes would increase the fastest. Naturally this would lead to a renewed rise in unemployment. This is why the apparently hapless Hungarian opposition parties should not be underestimated as opponents. Their strength is derived not from themselves, but from injections which come from abroad. They are dangerous because they are fighting as the mercenaries of their foreign masters, and this is a major source of danger. If they came to power in accordance with the interests of the international forces behind them, they would then carry out the orders of those forces.
In this battle why has Fidesz chosen the strategy of continuous preparedness and national mobilisation?
Even the birth of Fidesz in 1988 was precisely about what is now our essence. Back then, when we were engaged in resistance against the communists, our chief weapon was clear, honest talk – just as it is now. We explain who is who in this pro-migration matrix, and today, as then, we organise ourselves and engage in battle with the forces opposing us. We must stop them, because what they stand for runs counter to our national interests. This is why the election also has a significant international dimension. In the European Council, for instance, prime ministers vote on the issue of mandatory resettlement quotas, so the identity of Hungary’s prime minister for the next four years is far from irrelevant. National politics also has an impact on European affairs.
According to a survey conducted in the 28 EU Member States by the Hungarian research institute Századvég, Eastern Europe has an optimistic view of the future, while corresponding views in Western Europe are pessimistic. What do you think is the origin of this difference?
This sounds a little unusual to Hungarian ears, as everyone knows that Western European states are richer than those of Eastern Europe. Therefore Hungarians tend to believe that we’re pessimistic because we’re poorer, while those who are richer have better prospects. In fact, however, while living standards are higher in the West, people there are beginning to sense that they are unable to preserve their level, and so they find themselves on a downward trajectory, rather than an upward one. We, however, envisage a future of battle and struggle, but a future that is ascending. Furthermore, Western European states have become immigrant countries, with all the disadvantages which that involves. Due to the presence of immigrants, public security is deteriorating and the threat of terrorism is increasing, and very many people are concluding that their future quality of life will deteriorate, as will economic competitiveness. For the time being Central Europe has successfully defended itself against migrants: this problem does not yet affect us, but it’s there outside the gates, as a continuous threat.
In Hungary, too, many people take success for granted, not really remembering the situation we were in back in 2010. Haven’t all the economic achievements and the rise in living standards lulled a lot of people into a false sense of security?
Because Hungary has been functioning effectively and efficiently for eight years, in terms of economic and social conditions we’re heading towards a state of security and balance. So today everyone believes that governance and the political situation will always be like this. We have moved on a long way in time since 2010, and people don’t focus on the fact that back then poor political and governmental decisions had nearly bankrupted the country. So this will play a minor role in Sunday’s election decision. Today political discourse does not focus on the fact that on the Left there are those who bankrupted the country and that here on the national side there are those who prevented this – and who have indeed achieved major economic results with their actions in government. There is practically no unemployment, and for five years there has been continuous economic growth; yet these are not the deciding questions. The question is about our future. It is exactly our economic achievements which are primarily threatened by immigration, because immigrants must be provided for. If Hungary becomes an immigrant country, first economic problems will emerge, and then our culture and way of life will also be threatened. This is why we must talk to the people about this.
What does the future hold in another four-year term of government by the Right? Let’s start with taxation. Are you planning any changes?
The current Hungarian tax system is working well. Also in the EU, there is the concept that to increase competitiveness it is necessary to shift the focus of taxation towards consumption; unlike other countries, we have actually implemented this concept. The Hungarian tax system incentivises performance, without neglecting questions of fairness. Therefore proportional taxation will remain in place, as it’s only fair that a person who earns ten times more than another person should pay ten times more in taxes than that person. Proportional taxation helps people to plan their future in a predictable manner.
How could the country’s competitiveness be improved?
We agree with those who advocate the continuous improvement of competitiveness. I like the ideas of the economists in the National Bank of Hungary’s team of analysts. They represent a rather radical view, and the Governor of the Central Bank György Matolcsy has already outlined this concept to me. In this area we must take courageous decisions, and after we look into the concepts of various groups, in January 2019 we must launch a robust competitiveness policy. I’m thinking in terms of a Hungarian model based on competitiveness, full employment, demographic policy and identity policy. If a decision is made on one or another of these four pillars, it must also take account of the other three pillars. For instance, we can’t make a competitiveness decision which may detrimentally affect demography, or the other two pillars.
What should we prepare for in terms of migration policy in the European Union?
There are two battles under way: one in people’s heads, and the other at the negotiating table in Brussels. I believe that the battle in people’s heads has already been decided: people have come to understand what would happen if Hungary, too, bowed to pro-immigration policy. Books on this topic have been written, debates have started and, despite censorship, there’s a great deal of information on the internet about what’s going on in Western Europe: about no-go areas and the lack of success in integrating migrants. An anti-migrant majority has come into being – not only in Hungary, but across the whole of Europe. Whether this massive societal majority will be able to express itself in political decisions is another matter. But, regardless of this, the first battle is already over, and the second battle will be about how this position will be turned into a political majority.
This has already been achieved in Italy and Austria, but can anti-immigration parties realistically come to power in other Western European states?
This year of 2018 is a very important one, as we will see whether global forces – in pursuit of their own interests, and assisted by Brussels bureaucrats – will be able to impose pro-immigration governments on countries that are fundamentally opposed to immigration. The decisive battle in the European Council will take place in June, when we debate the proposal on the reform of the immigration system. In Brussels they have learnt nothing: they’re again trying to force through an automatic migrant distribution mechanism. In the first round, before the end of 2018, Hungary would be required to take in ten thousand people. The migrants coming here as a result would have to live somewhere, and we’d also have to provide for them. The plan also stipulates that family reunification must be allowed. The quotas would be continuous. There will be no point in us defending our borders if Brussels resettles ever more immigrants here. In that event the quotas would ensure the arrival in Hungary of still further tens of thousands of migrants, on the basis of a Brussels decision which national governments would have no say in. This will be a new, comprehensive European legislative proposal. If at the meeting in June Hungary is not represented by an anti-immigration prime minister, we too will fall. In that event, Hungary will be taken away from its people. This is why the election on 8 April is a watershed election.
Are those promoting immigration driven by money or ideology?
George Soros is a financial speculator. He never does anything that he doesn’t make money from in the end. Soros’s people will be installed in government; this is what the “Soros Leaks” recordings tell us. If Soros’s people have influence in government, they will occupy the Hungarian energy sector and the banking system. And the Hungarian people will pay the price for that. Against Soros’s candidates the people can only rely on our candidates. According to Sorosist calculations, the other candidates are already in their pockets. Therefore on 8 April the only responsible decision is to vote for both the Fidesz candidate and the Fidesz party list.