Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, an influential member of the European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-right grouping in the European parliament, has called for the EPP to take a stand against Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, who she accuses of no longer sharing European values. Mr Orbán’s party, Fidesz, is a member of the EPP.
In an editorial for Politico, Mrs Corazza Bildt – the wife of former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt – writes: “As Europe’s biggest and most diverse political grouping, we believe in working across political and cultural differences to build a stronger Europe, and are not afraid of having tough debates. Over the past few years, we’ve had constructive dialogue with the Hungarian prime minister’s Fidesz party and repeatedly warned it was in danger of crossing a line. That line was crossed last month, when Orbán claimed, at an event commemorating the legacy of the great German statesman Helmut Kohl, that Hungary’s ‘illiberal’ model of democracy would be driving force that revitalises Europe and the EPP.”
Mrs Corazza Bildt was referring to a controversial speech made by Mr Orban in which he stated that he wanted European parliament elections next year “to bring about a shift towards illiberal Christian democracy in the European Union that would end the era of multiculturalism and the 1968 elite.” He repeated much the same speech at a gathering of ethnic Hungarians at the Romanian spa resort of Baile Tusnad on July 27.
In her piece, Mrs Corazza Bildt provides numerous examples of Mr Orbán’s drift towards populism and authoritarianism, from his hatred for migrants and crackdown on dissent at home to his support for Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. She also shares concerns that Mr Orbán’s actions have added wind to the sails of equally distasteful political players elsewhere in the region.
“Orbán’s policies have emboldened his central and eastern European neighbours to follow suit and turn their backs on Europe. His vocal support for Putin’s war in Ukraine and his call for an end to sanctions against Moscow is also worrying, and runs counter to the values of the EPP, which strongly supports Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty,” she writes.
“The EPP should lead by example. Orbán’s declared agenda is to spread his brand of politics and extreme nationalism. We cannot let this cancer erode our principles.”