Hungarian president Viktor Orban declared victory
in the presidential elections this past weekend, and throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine Orban has declined to condemn Putin–whose country provides Hungary with much of its energy needs– instead deriding Volodymyr Zelensky as an “opponent” Orban needed to overcome during the election campaign. My forthcoming book, “Resurgence” examines Orban’s rise to power in Hungary and how projective identification has fueled his rise. Below, an excerpt:
In Hungary, policies are often changed without public support. In this case, many legal but questionable changes occurred after democratically held election brought Orbán to power. In a space of a few short years, he refashioned the government in his image.
Similarities Between Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump
Viktor Orbán, like Donald Trump, appears to say and do what he wishes without being concerned about any potential negative consequences of his actions. A vehement critic of the European Union Hungary is a member of, he once compared immigration to a “flu epidemic,” and has surrounded himself with “loyal parliamentarians” who ensure that he can “rule by decree indefinitely and without any parliamentary oversight” (Bociurkiw, 2020).
In 2020, Orbán’s chief of staff accused the European Commission of applying double standards in the way it treats EU member nations. (AP, 2020). “The latest report of the rule of law by the European Commission highlights that we can’t talk about the rule of law but the rule of blackmail,” said the chief of staff (AP, 2020). The suggestion being that Hungary is mistreated and maligned—a country aggrieved—and its leaders aren’t going to take it.
When discussing their enemies, Trump and Orbán echo each other in tone and content. In a 2019 New York Magazine article, Jonathan Chait observed the methods each uses to attack their proclaimed enemies—people characterized as being part of “a shadowy cabal of globalist financiers.” Trump, he writes, casts his enemies as, “these people that don’t have your good in mind…It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed us of our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” Orbán, Chait asserts, frames his nameless foes similarly, that they, “…do not fight directly, but by stealth. They are not honorable, but unprincipled. They are not national, but international. They do not believe in work but speculate with money. They have no homeland but feel that the whole world is theirs” (Chait, 2019).
In the statements above, both men appear to psychologically split groups of people into two categories and then project aspects of their own ways of being onto their perceived foes: the “global financiers” (Trump could be one of them) and those who “feel that the whole world is theirs,” (characteristics that have been attributed to Orbán)….
In 2014, Orbán gave a speech declaring that Hungary would turn away from liberal democracy and follow the time-tested practices of Eastern-style autocracies, including Russia and Turkey. His behavior embodied this shift since the Hungarian government controls most news outlets including radio and television channels as well as news websites. According to a source cited in the New York Times, the Hungarian media is “beginning to resemble state media under Communism because of the level of control and consolidation” (Kingsley, 2018). Most other institutions in Hungary have been affected as well, including schools and universities, the Hungarian Academy of Science, and cultural institutions. Most industries and enterprises are also increasingly coming under the control of the government.