Hungary is an ally of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a member nation of the European Union, a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, and since the arrival of Viktor Orbán in 2010 a more authoritarian and illiberal country. The prime minister’s government has politicized media, courts and central bank. On April 3, Orbán and his party, Fidesz, face voters again in Some elections will see the election of 199 members to the National Assembly who, in turn, appoints a new prime minister.
Orbán’s presidency has represented aRadical change in international politics and a transformation within state institutions The Prime Minister has a vision for Hungary: a country that is a partner of the great powers and a nation that Russia and China can trust in the European Union. Beijing sees Budapest’s potential to bridge a growing gap in Europe and increase its presence. In the last 12 years, Orbán has strengthened Hungary’s ties with these two great powers and commercial markets, setting aside Western censorship for the violation of human rights and advocating pragmatism in foreign trade and business.
Due to its continued defiance of Brussels, Hungary has strengthened its position as an ally to China. Budapest has a long history in balancing between power, particularly Russia and the West, but also increasingly towards China. Through multimillionaire contracts Orbán found that staying open to these two great powers gives him the economic and social stability to stay in power.
In August 2021, Budapest awarded two Chinese companies: China Civil Engineering and China Railway 11th Bureau, contracts to complete improvements on a railway connecting Hungary with Serbia and where the government obtained a Chinese loan of more than €1.7 billion. up to 20 years. Despite strong criticism from the opposition and accusations of corruption in contracts awarded to Beijing, Orbán has gone ahead with China, albeit keeping a prudent distance during the election campaign. In Budapest, protestors continued to occupy the streets against the Fudan University campus being built in Budapest, originally from Shanghai. Peter Marki-Zay, a contender to replace Orbán as the united opposition candidate, has vowed to reshape his country’s relationship with China and carefully review contracts awarded to Chinese companies.
The European Union has opened several disciplinary proceedings against Budapest, accusing the Orbán government of undermining the independence of judges, academic institutions, the press, and orchestrating a crusade against the LGBT community. Since 2010, Orbán and his party have been promoters of what they have dubbed “illiberal democracy.” In practice, laws have been passed by the government that limit judicial freedom and intimidate civil societies. In the country, the government has been closing down media outlets, educational institutions, and non-governmental organisations.
After 12 years in power, Orbán has managed to find a lasting base of support. Though with an autocratic bent, he has for more than a decade exploited real and legitimate fears about national sovereignty, Christian values and immigration. While the Hungarian leader rejects Brussels’ policies on these matters, it is a fact that at least half of the country worries about.