The Budapest Family Summit: A gathering of the far right

A few days ago I ended one of my posts by declaring that the present Hungarian government is a far-right formation and that it’s time for the western media to recognize this fact. Unfortunately, there are still far too many publications that keep referring to Fidesz and the Orbán government as a nationalistic, right-of-center, or conservative, party and government. I’m afraid they are wrong.

Some observers insist that the Viktor Orbán-led Fidesz has no definable ideology. The Hungarian prime minister is simply an opportunistic populist and a cynic, they claim. Maybe, but I find it striking that on April 26, when Viktor Orbán delivered his speech to the European Parliament in defense of his policies, only members of the far-right parties came to his support. All the others, including members of the European People’s Party, condemned his self-declared illiberal state and his systemic degradation of the country’s democratic institutions.

A good example of the ideological orientation of the regime is the Hungarian government’s embrace of the World Congress of Families (WCF). I already wrote about the forthcoming four-day pro-family extravaganza on May 11, but now that it is over I think we should take a second look.

I will start with some critical foreign reactions to the WCF’s holding its eleventh summit in Budapest. Right-Wing Watch called this year’s summit “part of a global struggle for achieving the group’s goals: restricting legal recognition for LGBTQ people and families, denying women legal access to abortion, and opposing sex education.” According to Right-Wing Watch, the organizers “picked Hungary as a way to show support for the government of strongman leader Viktor Orbán, whom WCF calls “the hero of pro-family and pro-life leaders.” The short article is accompanied by a long list of participants, including Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, who last year said that Hillary Clinton wanted to “usher in the Antichrist.” The Guardian quoted Lóránt Győri, a political scientist, who said that “this is not normal conservative politics.” Because of the WCF’s connection to the Russian far right, he believes that “there’s a geopolitical angle which is about Russia and the Kremlin trying to sell its message. The Kremlin uses [groups like] the WCF to assert its soft power in central European society.” And, most importantly, “by elevating this conference to a state-level event, we now can almost see that Fidesz is positioning itself as a far-right party.”

When I first discovered that members of the Hungarian government attended the Moscow Summit in 2014, I thought that perhaps Zoltán Balog and his team had not been fully aware of the ideological make-up of the WCF and its questionable connections to Russian oligarchs. Perhaps they didn’t know the unsavory reputation of this group. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Balog and his undersecretary in charge of family affairs, Katalin Novák, have had close contacts with the group for some time. No mistake here, the Hungarian government surely knew what kind of a group they had invited and sponsored.

Those who follow Hungarian news are only too aware of the reluctance of members of the Orbán government to give interviews, especially to media they consider to be unfriendly. But Balog appeared on RTL Klub’s evening news about two weeks before the opening of the Summit, denying that the WCF is a homophobic organization. As far as he was concerned, “an awful lot of stupid stories appeared about ‘who’s who’ among the participants.” Any organization the Hungarian government has contacts with is “considered to be a reliable partner.” Well, I guess that depends on whom the government considers reliable. Obviously those who share the government’s views.

It was not a long time ago that I said a few approving words about Heti Válasz’s more independent political orientation and its abandonment of the government propaganda line they had been toeing way after Magyar Nemzet and Hír TV decided to return to acceptable journalistic practices. However, one of their journalists, Szilárd Szőnyi, got into an argument with 444.hu, which had published a long article about the checkered past of the WCF with special emphasis on the fact that “the Congress supported the Russian anti-gay law.” Szőnyi admitted that it wouldn’t pass muster in the “western world.” But, he added, 90% of Russian society supports the law,” it has an overwhelming democratic mandate, so I gather there is nothing wrong with it.

A few days later Válasz reported that Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist best known for his 1971 Stanford prison experiment, had distanced himself from the WCF. Zimbardo delivered his lecture not to the gathering of the WCF but to the Budapest Demographic Forum, which was a serious international conference on demographics. The problem was that the World Congress of Families XI, the Budapest Demographic Forum, and the One of Us Pro-Life Conference were all held together under the rubric “The Budapest Family Summit.” Viktor Orbán opened the Budapest Demographic Forum while Zoltán Balog and Katalin Novák opened the conference of the WCF. There may have been two distinct affairs held at different venues, but the whole weekend had a distinctively far-right hue which, I’m afraid, overshadowed even the professional gathering of the Demographic Forum.

One of the participants in the WCF gathering was Beatrix von Storch, the AfD member of the European Parliament, who gave a long interview to Magyar Hírlap. Let’s keep in mind that she was one of the few far-right EP members who spoke in defense of Viktor Orbán’s anti-democratic policies. In fact, she was the one who extended an apology in the name of the European Parliament for the way they treated the Hungarian prime minister.

During the course of the interview she complained that in Germany a conference like this one, sponsored by the government, couldn’t be held. The topics the speakers covered couldn’t be discussed in Germany. For example, “there was a discussion at the conference about the correlation between the educational attainment of children and their church attendance.” That would be a taboo topic. If she organized a conference like that, no government official would think of attending. “In addition, at least 500-1,000 policemen would be needed to defend us against aggressive far-left demonstrators.” Von Storch claimed in the interview that her car had been set on fire because she spoke up for “traditional marriages.”

As far as the opposition parties are concerned, they paid no attention to the event, with the exception of the Demokratikus Koalíció’s László Sebián-Petrovszki, who is the leader of the party’s LGBTQ working group. He labelled the concept of “family” propagated by the Family Summit hopelessly out of date. It narrows the concept of family to what the group calls “the natural family,” which means a heterosexual couple whose association serves only one purpose: biological reproduction. The demographic message of this family extravagance was utterly unrealistic, and Viktor Orbán’s speech about the government’s method for remedying the demographic shortfall was based on wishful thinking. To quote Zsuzsanna Makay, a demographer, “1980 was the last time there was a higher birth rate than death rate. To get back to a positive population growth [assuming there is neither immigration nor migration], an additional 30,000 babies [over and above the 2016 birth rate of 93,100] would have to be born every year. This is simply impossible to achieve.” The rest is just talk at far-right conferences on family values and reproduction.

May 30, 2017
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old1956
Guest

the fidesz regime is a fined tuned weapon against the West, NATO, EU.

orban is really a priceless champion for his Eastern ally.

Annoying. but the western leadership is amazingly inept.

trump must come up with a winning strategy. to end the free ride of putin.

petofi
Guest

The only strategy Trump is working on is how to increase his net worth beyond 100 billion before his ass gets heaved out of office….

Istvan
Guest
When discussing President Trump’s demise it has to be understood that he has the legal ability to issue a blanket preemptive pardon to all individuals associated with his campaign committee that may have had contacts with even Russian SVR agents in violation of the Logan Act, Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the Espionage Act of 1917, or even 18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information law. A preemptive pardon was done by President Ford when he granted then former President Nixon a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. So it is legal without question. President Trump can if he wants to just end the Russia investigation by making it moot. The question then would be could he be successfully impeached for the crime of obstruction of justice? At this time there are not the votes necessary to do this in either the Senate or the House. Such a pardon in my opinion create enormous pressure on the Republicans to move towards impeachment, but I believe they would not do so in sufficient numbers to meet the vote requirement of impeachment. To bring articles of impeachment against… Read more »
The reality
Guest

President Trump has right to give a pardon. It is not an American legal concept, virtually all presidents of the world have that special right in their countries. So it is not an American speciality. Historically, the presidential pardons originated in the medieval European Royal pardon.

Guest

Trump?
Imho he’s Putin’s ally in many respects!
Just look at the way he treated the EU right now, especially Mrs Merkel.
Seems she’s now finished with the loonie …

Guest

Just for fun:
Sorry, link doesn’t work – maybe later.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘ass heaved out of office’

Hehe… Below could be POTUS’ presidency so far. Who knows how the cowboy will last on ‘Bodacious?’…Oohhhhhhh….coming down is bad. 🙀

https://youtu.be/OUnSXXrnG78

Guest

These right wingers are either totally crazy or have some hidden agendas.
An extreme example from Germany:
Alice Weidel, the new head of the family-oriented, Nationalist and anti-Muslim AfD is a Lesbian who lives with her Swiss partner and their children near the German/Swiss border:
One apartment in Germany, one in Switzerland – taxes are paid in Switzerland, they’re much lower there of course …

I wonder how she is selling that to her clientele …

PS:
Reminds me of my time as a student in Germany 50 years ago – You could go to jail then (theoretically …) for homosexual activities (a gay friend of mine was really afraid of that) and even for allowing sex between unmarried people – so the families from which we rented rooms were very strict: No girls visiting, at least not overnight!

Jon Van Til
Guest

While these family activists pack their bags in preparation for their predictable conference roles while visiting Disneyland/Budapest—networking desperately in the hopes that a few crumbs from the tables of the oligarchs will drop their way, drinking themselves silly in ruin bars, and seeking that “one person” of whatever gender who will help them through the night—I’ll raise my morning coffee cup to Michael Ignatieff and his hardy band at CEU. Congratulations on their determined struggle for democracy, reason, globalism, and the open society! https://www.ceu.edu/article/2017-05-30/ceu-remain-budapest-2017-2018-academic-year-hopes-long-term-solution

Guest

And it’s all over the German media:
The German government wants to stop the money flow to the Illiberal Hun-Pols:
http://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/ausland/eu/id_81321846/eu-hilfen-bundesregierung-will-osteuropaeern-gelder-streichen.html

old1956
Guest

The German government has to clean house.
1. Acceptance of Syrian refugees – great
2. Fake alliance with Obama – poor
3. Fighting Trump – idiotic
4. Aiding Orban, Kaczinsky – error
5. Weak policy regarding Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran – criminal
6. Keeping up the economic wonder – miracle
7. Soft on Kremlin – strategic error

Guest

I totally disagree with you!

I’m really happy that Mrs Merkel now has declared “independency” from Trump and his crazy ideas!
He is a worse enemy of peace (or at least as bad…) as Putin. And she knows Putin and is not soft on him!

PS:
I really don’t understand that you seem to be a Trump-fan, just shudder to see or hear him …

wrfree
Guest

‘Covfefe?’….

Trump as Citizen Kane…… his ‘Rosebud?’

Observer
Guest

Jon Van Til

I join the salutation of Ignatieff/CEU, democrats defending democracy.
If there were more like them here, Hungary would have been much better off and Orban would have been toying with a his Felcsut domain at best.

Joe Simon
Guest

Rather amusing to read these moralizing Epistles by Éva, coming from a country that is officially an oligarchy led now by a super oligarch.
It is like preaching morality from a brothel.

Guest

If you could read then you’d know that people here including our host are as anti-Trump as we are anti-Illiberal, simple Simon!
It’s the typical idiocy of the extreme right wingers like you that they seem to believe that being a citizen of a country means total agreement with its government.
If you’re anti Orbán then you’re anti-Hungarian!
If you’re anti Hitler then you’re anti-German! (I couldn’t resist that to show Wes Geistes Kind you are!)

Ferenc
Guest

First a correction: OV’s speech in EU parliament was April.26, on May.17 was the vote about ‘Fundamental Rights: situation in Hungary’.
About the AfD participant Storch I would like to note, that she was the one, who after OV’s speech in the EU parliament, wanted and succeeded to be pictured with ‘her hero’.

The dates chosen for this whole “Family Extravaganza” I found very peculiar, it included the last Sunday of May. The day on which in Hungary is yearly celebrated “Children’s Day”, with a lot of events organized for children all over the country. To me this seemed a way by the government to integrate their WCF&Co events and let them look less negative (in respect to fundamental human rights) than they really are.
Hopefully the yearly children’s day events were held as usual, without any WCF&Co interference, and could really enjoyed by the Hungarian youth.

Pole
Guest
For me Fidesz is far-right party. Alex Kuli wrote two days ago that:„Part of the problem here is, Fidesz has no identifiable ideology. It is simply Orban’s private club.” I think this is the core of Orban’s rule. Hungary is “personalist autocracy” when Poland is still ” defective democracy” in transition period to authoritarism. 5 Indicators of personalist autocracy are as follows: 1) The first is to install loyalists. Leaders seeking to consolidate their personal control over the political system install loyalists in key positions of power including in the courts, the security apparatus, the military, the ruling political party, and the bureaucracy. [case Poland: Constitional Court, Security Service or National Bank] 2) Another feature is to create a new party or movement. Personalist dictators also tend to create new political organizations or movements. [case Poland: Law and Order Party created by Kaczynski twin brothers] 3) Next is to promote family. Leaders looking to amass power seek to place close family members in influential positions, regardless of government experience. [case Poland: Kaczynski cousin Jan Maria Tomaszewski in state TV. Other Law and Order leaders’ family members in influential governmental or state companies positions] 4) Use of direct rule or referendum… Read more »
4004
Guest

Fidesz IS a radical, far-right party. There’s no doubt about it.

The problems is that there’s no clear, consistent ideology or vision on the other side. They want power for power’s sake (in short: to get their long-awaited cut from the big dough) but otherwise they offer nothing.

Pole
Guest

Fidesz is far-right populist party

petofi
Guest

If you have no integrity, you cannot have a coherent ideology.

Hungarians have no integrity…hence the lack of an ideology of any sector.

Observer
Guest

I wouldn’t delve into the theoretical distinctions between all the terms used: illiberal democracy, authoritarian, personalized authoritarian, fascistoid, mafia state, etc.
The current regime is not ideology based as Orban’s metamorphoses show, he has been in all political beds and have said everything and it’s opposite too. The time and place determine the political process and the forms – no kings and emperors, no conquests of land and peoples now. The guiding motives and perceptions, however, are pretty similar in all cases from the archons of Athens to date: power and wealth.
This is why the Orban regime resembles closely fascism, he is an accidental fascist, not one by design. His corruption resembles that of the Central American dictatorships of the 1960s, perhaps because Hungary is a small, second world country.
The slogan about God, king and country turned into God, country and family (the of cult of personality still has a bad smell of communism)

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘that bad smell of communism’

Of course. And even then it’s like the guest that never seems to leave. Understandable then why ‘hospitality’ isn’t exactly one of the country’s virtues.

Member
The third component of this magnificent gathering was a meeting of One of Us, as so-called European Citizen’s Initiative. The movement’s main goals are to restrict EU funding for birth control and maternal health in third countries, as well as for stem cell research. These goals are directly imported from the US, via Pat Robertson, and the movement’s other main backer is the Vatican. The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development published a neat intelligence briefing about them in 2013: http://humanistfederation.eu/ckfinder/userfiles/files/our-work/SRHR/IB%208%20European%20Citizens%27%20Inititative%20-%20One%20of%20Us.pdf On top of the the Orbán government’s devotion of to these fundamentalist kooks (WCF+One of Us), Hungarian taxpayers are funding all sorts of Christian organizations under the guise of “humanitarian aid”, since Hungary is a Christian country. See the awesome donation to Kirche in Not as Syrian aid — their mission is proselytizing and church building. A series of million-euro donations were just announced for christian housing, christian schooling and christian aid in the middle east, and to “caritative organizations” on the southern border. Schools, real estate, whatnot is given to religious organizations on a whim, supporting at the same time racial segregation and proselytization among the poor. The chumminess pays off: main Hungarian churches, but most notably… Read more »
Pole
Guest

I would like to add that power of village priest in secular Hungary is nothing comparing to Poland where 40% of population are going to church every Sunday.

The reality
Guest

More than half of the Hungarian villages have gypsy origin in the 21th century Hungary. The relationship between Hungarians and gypsies are not so bright. So I can’t understand how can the far-right propaganda work in villages.

wrfree
Guest
‘We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. Jonathan Swift Sign of the times in far-right circles. Always stirring the pot for hearts and minds now as they fear that the creeping liberal secularism which exists in the West would cast the entire Christian faith community and their piety aside to languish and eventually cease to exist. The trepidation is so palpable that one sect would have no compunction to see others not of same belief or ideas unequivocally damned to damnation and the hellfires. Let’em burn goes the Christian platform mantra. They must be the victors in the seemingly grave battle for religious existence. It remains to be seen how the contradictions inherent in far right’s tending and management of feeding ‘opium’ to the people works out. Putin , VO et al, these lay political clerics, indeed know the use of piety to build their illiberal worlds where ‘God’ is always on high looking on the work. And fusing ‘God’ with the ‘state’ looks a great marriage to make it so where none other than the religious inherit the earth. Perhaps we should add the illiberalists who are very… Read more »
Pole
Guest

Alliance of state and church in contemporary Europe is as usual Putin’s invention. Of course in Russia church is subordinated to state (it’s Russian tradition) but in Poland church is independant force fully suporting new authoritarian course.

wrfree
Guest

Unfortunately another ‘check and balance’ hemorraging away as it and its teachings get co-opted for nefariousness by the illiberalists.

Observer
Guest

BTW it is not a “reluctance of members of the Orbán government to give interviews,..” they are not allowed to express opinion (lest they utter a truth), they have all been degraded to a parrot commando.
Kudos to DK’s Sebián-Petrovszki, but his note about the regime’s concept of family being “hopelessly out of date” misses the main point:
the “pro-family” stance is only a political tool to pander to the conservative sections of the population. In practice most of the regime’s measures support only the upper middle class families and above, while impoverishing the rest as the economic and demographic stats show.

I_reborn
Guest

Eva, this is the first sentence of this article: “A few days ago I ended one of my posts by declaring that the present Hungarian government is a far-right formation and that it’s time for the western media to recognize this fact.” does it mean that you wrote as your opinion or it is the gospel of God? Are you so full of yourself that you believe that you have acquired the right to “declare” or it was just an unfortunate choice of word? These are the discrediting mistakes far left liberals make all the time, They declare rather than debate, they judge rather than discuss, they accuse rather than find out facts, and they mislead rather than guide.

We entered an era where so called “intellectuals” became so arrogant that they afford to attempt imposing their views on everybody as the one and only unquestionable pronouncement that must rule. It is really fortunate that as you mentioned “.. there are still far too many publications that keep referring to Fidesz and the Orbán government..” differently than what you DECLARED.

Just think about this …. without throwing labels at me.

Guest

I have to throw a label at you I-fascist!

You’re so predictable in your xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia (I’m sure you can add more groups to the list of people you hate – women? …) – a really nice example of what is wrong with the extreme right wing haters.
Beware, the Pirez will be coming for you! 🙂

I_reborn
Guest

@ wolfi7777 …. of course you have to throw a few labels as that is all you can do. You are lacking the abilities to debate anything as your views are blocked by foggy ideas and you have lost your sense of reality (if you ever had) a long time ago. – You are the prime example of what is wrong with the extreme left wing labelers.

Send my best wishes to Pirez pls. And do not forget to jod-down if something meaningful accidently crosses your mind to avoid forgetting it 🙁

Guest

Look up Pirez and Hungarians’ feelings on them – as represented by Tarki.
And fyi – I live near the Balaton half of the year with my Hungarian wife and she would tell you the same if she knew English.
Again you are a very good example of what’s wrong with many Hungarians (not sure if you are one though) – I’m so happy that my wife is different.

I_reborn
Guest
Eva, please allow me to quote you: “ Well, I guess that depends on whom the government considers reliable. Obviously those who share the government’s views.” Would it not be the same on this blog too? Isn’t everybody not agreeing with your view considered wrong here (and B-listed too)? Btw when will you disable your B-list? I still cannot comment under my real name and address? Why do you think that this blog is the depository of the TRUTH, the one that can proclaim what idea is right and what is not. What gives the right to the so called LGBTQ community to meet, demonstrate, openly (and lately with exposed genitals) parade, “educate”, spread their views freely while you and other liberals want to take away the freedom of speech, right to assemble and the publicity of the anti-abortionist and traditional family supporters. What kind of a World are you marching toward where the pushers of one idea rule the rest and silence the opposition of it? Communism? Dictatorship? The fourth Reich- (a.k.a. merkel-reich)? What makes the Demographic Forum a “professional gathering” whilst the World Congress of Families “a homophobic organization” that promotes “the natural family”? And speaking of “homophobics… Read more »
I_reborn
Guest

Here is a question for all of you: what is wrong with traditional families? After all if I am not mistaken each and all of you were brought to this World by a man and a woman (with the exception of “lombik babies” and “szeplőtlenül foggantak”). I am looking for replies from those who were given birth by LGBTQ parents without the participation of opposite sex. No need to label me homophobe, rather a realist pls.

Guest

Totally OT but a sign of what’s really going on in Hungary:
The Fidesz administration has taken in many “workers” and the costs have doubled since 2010!
http://budapestbeacon.com/news-in-brief/cost-government-administration-nearly-doubled-last-eight-years/47268
I really hope that the EU will reduce its financial contribution to this m**** organisation called Hungarian state!
We just discussed this with our neighbour – as a builder who does mainly repairs (like installing new bathrooms – or swimming pools …) he sees a lot of newly/suddenly rich people but he acknowledges that there are more and more extremely poor people in Hungary, pensioners trying to live on less than 100 000 HUF a month e g …

I_reborn
Guest

@ wolfi7777 …. i hope the EU will ignore your wrongful advise as they did many of similar suggestions published on this website. The life of the Hungarian People would be impacted (not yours as you live very far away from the Blessed Land) so keep your advises and try something that furthers the cause of the Nation not what destroys it. Your note displays some real lack of understanding of economics and a huge dose of venom.

Observer
Guest

If you want “to try something that furthers the cause of the Nation”. you should clobber orban any way you can, cause he’s destroying the nation.

Üss, ahol elèred!

Observer
Guest

Wolfi

The bloated government is another payout channel for the Fid mafiosi. There’s not much government going on, soneone noticed any new ideas? Any new projects? Any achievements?

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Amnesty International started campaign against Hungary’s (or better OV&Co’s) anti-NGO law.
Here’s info: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur27/6366/2017/en/ and https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2763662017ENGLISH.pdf

Related item: appeal in case of Ahmed H. will be June.15 in Szeged, https://twitter.com/TodorGardos/status/870245355039989760.
In Hungarian media I’ve seen people claiming that the EU shouldn’t have put this case in their May.17 resolution, because according Hungarian law he is a terrorist. Well THAT’s just the problem: tell me another EU country where he would be judged similar!! Can’t find one?? Then the problem is really the current ‘Rule of Law’ in Hungary, which is not in accordance with the EU!! It’s THAT simple…

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