Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is scheduled to meet today with President Donald Trump in Washington. As such, it seems a perfect opportunity to discuss the issues raised by Orbán’s controversial tenure as the leader of Hungary. Is he a threat to liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the grand values of the European Union, values that many believe the U.S. is equally committed to upholding globally? Many of our democracy experts breathlessly affirm as much. Might things be a bit more nuanced? What about Orbán’s understanding of what liberalism represents on the European continent and how it is enforced by the European Union? What about the challenges this particular liberalism poses to a broader, more historically informed West, one fully conversant with a cultural and religious tradition that started long before 1968? Discussing these questions and more are Marc Plattner and Richard Reinsch.
Marc Plattner: “Orbán’s Misapprehension of Liberalism”
Liberalism is widely attacked and authoritarianism is surging. One clear indicator of this shift is the fact that “illiberal democracy” has been transformed in some quarters from a term of denigration to a proudly proclaimed slogan. This has largely been the work of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who as early as 2014 began embracing “illiberal” as a positive description.
Richard Reinsch: “Orbán Puts the Political Question to the EU”
The fundamental dividing line of Europe is the general openness to reappropriate a cultural, political, and religious tradition that was denied the East by the Soviet Union versus the desire of EU leaders, technocrats, and judges to critique and distance themselves from their own tradition.