DALLAS (TBEN) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is expected to receive a huge welcome in the US from conservative admirers on Thursday, barely a week after backlash at home and in Europe over anti-migrant comments that one of his closest associates compared to Nazi rhetoric.
Orban’s headline close at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, one of the country’s largest gatherings of conservative activists, has raised concerns about Republicans embracing an autocrat criticized for undermining democratic institutions and consolidating power. in his own country.
Other speakers include former President Donald Trump, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Republican candidates fresh off the GOP’s primary election wins on Tuesday.
Orban’s invitation to CPAC reflects the growing conservative embrace of the Hungarian far-right leader whose country has enacted harsh policies against immigration and LGBTQ rights, and is governed by a one-party system. Orban is also considered Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the European Union.
His visit to Texas comes amid renewed outrage at home over a speech in which Orban railed against Europe becoming a “mixed race” society. One of his closest associates compared the comments to the Nazis and resigned in protest.
Orban has dismissed the criticism, saying his government does not tolerate racism and that he has not come under fire from conservatives in the US. CPAC organizers have dismissed objections that Orban is authoritarian and have praised him for opposing the EU.
Even before Orban took the stage in Texas — America’s second most populous state and one politically controlled by Republicans — Trump had already welcomed him to the US while receiving him in Florida earlier this week.
“Few people know so much about what’s going on in the world today,” Trump said in a statement after the meeting.
According to a White House official, President Joe Biden will not speak to Orban while he is traveling across the US.
The title of Orban’s talk is “How we Fight.” Through his communications agency, Orban turned down an interview request from The The Bharat Express News.
The TBEN and other international news organizations were also banned from covering a CPAC conference held in Budapest in May, the group’s first conference in Europe. At that meeting, Orban called Hungary “the bastion of conservative Christian values in Europe” and urged conservatives in the US to “defeat the dominance of progressive liberals in public life”.
He has styled himself as a champion of what he calls “illiberal democracy.”
Orban was Prime Minister of Hungary between 1998 and 2002, but it is his record since he took office again in 2010 that has sparked controversy and raised concerns about Hungary’s slide into authoritarian rule. Orban has portrayed himself as a defender of European Christianity against Muslim migrants, progressives and the ‘LGBTQ lobby’.
Last year, his right-wing Fidesz party banned the portrayal of homosexuality or gender reassignment in media targeting those under 18, a move critics say was an attack on LGBTQ people. Information about homosexuality was also prohibited in school sex education programs, or in films and advertisements accessible to minors.
Orban has consolidated power over the country’s judiciary and media, and his party has drawn legislative districts in a way that makes it very difficult for opposition parties to win seats — somewhat akin to partisan gerrymandering efforts for state legislature and congressional seats in The United States. process currently favors Republicans because they control more of the state legislators who create those boundaries.
Such moves have led international political observers to label Orban as the face of a new wave of authoritarianism. The European Union has filed numerous lawsuits against Hungary for violating EU rules and withholding billions in recovery funds and credit for violations of rule of law standards and insufficient safeguards against corruption.
Prior to Orban taking the stage in Texas, the Republican government will be Greg Abbott. Michigan’s Tudor Dixon, who won the GOP nomination for governor in her battlefield on Tuesday, is also scheduled to speak at the conference, which ends Saturday.
The Bharat Express News writer Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.