Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was expected to be greeted by conservative admirers in the U.S. on Thursday, a week after one of his closest colleagues compared anti-immigrant rhetoric to Nazi rhetoric at home and Europe were strongly opposed.
Orban’s headlines at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, one of the nation’s largest gatherings of conservative activists, sparked criticism of Republicans accepting a leader who has come under fire for undermining democracy and consolidating power in the country. dictator’s concerns.
Other speakers included former President Donald Trump, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and the Republican candidate who just won the GOP primary on Tuesday.
Orban’s invitation to CPAC reflects growing conservative support for Hungary’s far-right leader, a country that has implemented hard-line policies against immigration and LGBTQ rights and is governed by a one-party system. Orban is also considered to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the European Union.
Before his visit to Texas, Orban sparked fresh outrage in a speech slamming Europe as a “mixed-race” society. One of his closest colleagues compared the comments to Nazis and resigned in protest.
Orban dismissed the criticism, saying his administration was intolerant of racism and that he had not come under fire from American conservatives.
Even before Orban took office in Texas — the second most populous state in the U.S. politically controlled by Republicans — Trump welcomed him to Florida earlier this week when he received him U.S.
“Very few people know what’s going on in the world today,” Trump said in a statement after the meeting.
President Joe Biden has no plans to speak with Orban during his U.S. trip, according to a White House official.
The title of Orban’s speech was “How We Fight”. Orban, through his communications office, declined an interview request from The Associated Press.
The Associated Press and other international news organizations were also banned from covering the CPAC meeting in Budapest in May, the group’s first meeting in Europe. At that gathering, Orban called Hungary “a bastion of conservative Christian values in Europe” and urged conservatives in the United States to defeat “the dominance of progressive liberals in public life.”
He positioned himself as a champion of what he called “illiberal democracy.”
Orban was Hungary’s prime minister from 1998 to 2002, but it was his record since he took office again in 2010 that has caused controversy and sparked fears that Hungary is slipping into a dictatorship. Orban describes himself as a defender of European Christendom against Muslim immigrants, progressives and the “LGBTQ lobby.”
Last year, his right-wing Fidesz party banned the depiction of homosexuality or transgender people in media targeting people under 18, a move critics called an attack on LGBTQ people. Information about homosexuality is also prohibited in school sex education programs or in films and advertisements accessible to minors.
Orban has consolidated power over the country’s judiciary and media, and his party has demarcated legislative districts in a way that makes it difficult for opposition parties to win seats — somewhat similar to the partisan constituencies in the US for state legislative and congressional seats Divide effort. The process currently favors Republicans because they control more of the state legislatures that create those borders.
The moves have led international political observers to label Orbán as a new wave of authoritarianism. The EU has launched multiple legal proceedings against Hungary for breaching EU rules and withheld billions of dollars in recovery funds and credits for breaches of rule of law standards and inadequate anti-corruption safeguards.
The former Orban on the Texas stage will be Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Tudor Dixon of Michigan, who won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in her battleground state on Tuesday, will also serve as a speaker during the session that ends Saturday.
Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.