Commentary PM Orbán

Intellectual curiosity is Orbán’s secret weapon

Intellectual curiosity is the secret weapon of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Christopher Caldwell writes in an article for conservative site Clarendon Review of Books.

“Orbán urges his aides to take one day a week off to devote to their reading and writing. He does so himself, clearing his Thursdays when he can,” Caldwell writes. “His ideas are powerful, raw, and unsettled.”

Caldwell says when Orbán’s conservative Fidesz came back to power in 2010, it inherited a country which was almost in as bad a situation as Greece: heavily indebted, with an unemployment rate of 12 percent and economy that shrunk by 6.6 percent in the previous year.

Since then Hungary fully repaid its loans to the International Monetary Fund by 2013 and currently the country has an economic growth of four (to five) percent, an unemployment rate of about three percent while public debt has fallen from 85 percent to 71 percent.

Caldwell also says Orbán’s delivered one of his most important speeches in Kötse, near Lake Balaton in the late summer of 2015 when Hungary was preparing to fence off its southern border threatened by a mass of migrants.

“Hungary must protect its ethnic and cultural composition,” Caldwell cites from the speech. “I am convinced that Hungary has the right—and every nation has the right—to say that it does not want its country to change.”

Caldwell, in addition to agreeing with Orbán’s idea of a strong state, has everything but praise for him.

“Orbán is more than the bohunk version of Donald Trump that he is often portrayed as. He is blessed with almost every political gift—brave, shrewd with his enemies and trustworthy with his friends, detail-oriented, hilarious,” he writes in his article entitled Hungary and the future of Europe.

Title image: Viktor Orbán reads the first issue of the re-launched conservative daily Magyar Nemzet on February 6, 2019 (Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page)

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