Je Suis Viktor

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán among heads of government and state in Paris on January 11, 2015 to show solidarity with Republican Marches.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán among heads of government and state in Paris on January 11, 2015 to show solidarity with Republican Marches (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was among the approximately 40 heads of government and state who met in Paris on January 11, 2015 to show solidarity with the Republican Marches held throughout France on that date to protest the Charlie Hebdo and related terrorist attacks the previous week.

Orbán used the occasion to open up a new front against another purported external threat to Hungary: “economic” immigration—i.e., migration from non-European countries.

In an interview with Hungarian Television reporter in Paris on the day of the Republican Marches, the prime minister said (source in Hungarian):

Economic immigration is a bad thing in Europe. It shouldn’t be seen as something that is of any use at all, because it just brings difficulty and danger to the European person. This is why immigration must be stopped. This is the Hungarian viewpoint.

And:

At the same time, one must make it very definitely clear that we will not permit—at least as long as I am the prime minister and as long is this government exists—it will not happen that Hungary becomes the target of immigrants.

And:

We do not want to see among us significant minorities that possess different cultural characteristics and background than us. We would like to preserve Hungary as Hungary.

Also on January 11, Prime Minister Orbán told the Hungarian News Agency MTI: “The European person is under attack, the freedom and lifestyle of the European person. . . . current European politics cannot defend European people” (source in Hungarian).

In foreign-policy terms, Orbán’s depiction of the threat of non-European immigration to Hungary in connection to the January 7–9 Jihadist attacks in France is presumably part of his effort to place the “illiberal state” that he has built as prime minister into the context an extra-EU, German-led alliance of central and eastern European countries aimed at repelling external threats (see Teutonic Shift and Designated Adversary 2015: USA).

In domestic terms, the moderate conservative Hungarian political scientist Gábor Török identified the possible motives that may have impelled Prime Minister Orbán to utilize this type of anti-immigration rhetoric for the first time (source in Hungarian):

1. Orbán said this because he believes it is proper, right and to be followed.

2. Orbán said this because he was concerned that Jobbik [Hungary’s radical-nationalist Jobbik party] will be able to exploit the situation and as a result of political calculations he now considered this to be expedient.

3. Orbán said this because now for him avoiding a further loss of votes is the most important and according to their research the base wanted to hear these words in this situation.

4. Orbán said this because he thinks that every sharp “ideological” debate is useful for him now: especially at home, though even internationally as well.

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