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Orbán congratulates Macron

In an especially brief press release issued Monday morning, the Prime Minister's Office of Hungary announced that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had congratulated French President-elect Emmanuel Macron on his electoral victory Sunday.

"I look forward to our cooperation, and trust that in the future we will have the opportunity to further develop our bilateral relations, and also to discuss our ideas with relation to the future of Europe," Orbán reportedly wrote Macron.
But Macron has thus far showed no signs of admiration for Orbán. As FreeHungary reported earlier, Macron slammed his contender, Marine Le Pen, by accusing the candidate from the far-right party Front National of being in cahoots with the likes of Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We all know who Le Pen's allies are: Orbán, Putin. These aren't regimes with an open and free democracy," Macron reportedly said at a May 1 campaign stop in Paris.

Orbán, who for years has waged an intense propaganda campaign against "Brussels", is finding himself increasingly isolated among his European peers.

Last summer Orbán predicted that 2017 would be "the year of revolt." People under the thumb of a liberal political elite incapable of understanding the real needs of the citizens would rebel in the voting booths and vote for right-wing parties like the Austrian Freedom Party, the German Alternative für Deutschland, the Dutch Party for Freedom and Democracy, and the French National Front of Marine Le Pen. Since then, three elections were held, and in all three cases Orbán's predictions turned out to be wrong. There is one more to go: the German election in September, but the likelihood of AfD winning is about zero.

Orbán was a great deal more cautious in the case of the French election than he had been in the U.S. election when he openly supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, whom he considered to be a disaster for Hungary. When Orbán was asked by reporters of Le Monde a couple of weeks before the election whether he supports Le Pen since the two share similar worldviews, Orbán was evasive. "My star among the candidates was François Fillon, whom I fully supported.... We worked together. We had our differences, but I still have an exchange of letters which is a basic document on modern friendship between men." Orbán, as usual, might be overstating their friendship. He first met Fillon in November of 2010 when Fillon was prime minister of France. The meeting lasted less than an hour. By May 2012 Fillon resigned, after which he "retired" from politics.

Two weeks ago, during the European Parliament debate on "the situation in Hungary", Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group leader Guy Verhofstadt compared the young Viktor Orbán of 1989 to Emmanuel Macron.
"I would say you were like the Emmanuel Macron of Hungary in 1989," Verhofstadt said. "I don't think Emmanuel Macron will be pleased with what I have said today, though I didn't say it French so I hope that it doesn't make a lot [of problems]."
Just days after the EP debate, the Presidency of the European People's Party (EPP) held a closed-door meeting with Orbán, challenging Hungary's higher education law (Lex CEU), a bill which stigmatizes NGOs, and the anti-EU national consultation.
"The EPP has also made it clear to our Hungarian partners that the blatant anti-EU rhetoric of the 'Let's stop Brussels' consultation is unacceptable," EPP President Joseph Daul reportedly said after the meeting. "The constant attacks on Europe, which Fidesz has launched for years, have reached a level we cannot tolerate. This consultation has been deeply misleading. The European Union was founded by visionary representatives of the EPP, and our convictions are deeply pro-European. We do not have to remind Viktor Orbán, of all people, that decisions in Brussels are taken collectively by European governments, including his Hungarian government, and by the European Parliament, which includes representatives of the Hungarian people," Daul said.

Macron, who founded France's centrist, transpartisan liberal party En Marche!, has been unambiguous about his desire to see a stronger, more unified Europe.
"Mr. Macron is ardently pro-Europe and has portrayed himself almost as the anti-Le Pen," The New York Times reported in April.

In his Magyar Idők editorial, pro-Fidesz Zoltán Kottász takes it for granted that international liberal forces will greet Macron's victory over Marine Le Pen enthusiastically as a victory of the 'European mainstream over populism'. This stands in marked contrast, he suggests, to the way they approach the arrival in power of new governments that represent views differing from their own. They describe international politics as a lethal clash between good and evil and 'give no chance to those who do not conform to their views'. The victory of the right wing in Poland was immediately met with a mass demonstration, Great Britain is described as doomed because of Brexit, a 'resistance movement' was organised in the United States as soon as President Trump took the oath of office, while Prime Minister Orbán of Hungary has been accused again and again of anti-Semitism – 'a useful trump card, when one runs out of arguments'. Kottász recommends Hungarian right-wingers to adapt a very different approach to Macron and hope for the best. In the first place, he hopes that Macron's promise to impose sanctions on countries, including Hungary which 'don't comply with the principles of the European Union' was only 'a populist slogan in the heat of the campaign'.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 12:21

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