Hundreds of renowned right-wingers spanning Europe, the United States, and beyond converged in Hungary on May 19 for the sole purpose of attending the American Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC’s European debut. The two-day gathering highlights a strengthening of relations between the American radical right and the far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s dictatorial administration in Hungary. Because of the growing cooperation with Orban, several American political pundits have warned that the American right is adopting vehemently anti-democratic practices.
Orban has sparked debate in the European Union for curtailing progressive principles as part of his plan of turning Hungary into what he describes an “illiberal democracy,” and yet he has won appreciation from several sections of the American right for his hardline approach to migrants and LGBTQ matters, as well as his repudiation of liberal multiculturalism, throughout his more than two decades of rule. Orban branded Hungary “the bulwark of conservative Christian principles in Europe” in his inaugural speech at the CPAC conference on Thursday, and encouraged right-wingers in the United States to combat “the hegemony of progressive liberals in public life,” similar to what he had achieved in Hungary.
“We need to re-establish institutions in Washington and Brussels. We need to identify partners among ourselves and coordinate our movements,” Orban stated. Notwithstanding rounds of attempts, foreign correspondents from Vox Media, the Rolling Stone, New Yorker, Associated Press, as well as Vice News were refused entrance to the conference. Their registration applications were simply disregarded and were advised to “view the conference digitally” by the organizers.
This gathering is the biggest example of the American radical right’s support of Orban, someone Trump has praised. Trump, who officials say was especially fond of tyrants and autocrats throughout his presidency, praised Orban’s reelection campaign and implored Hungarians to vote him back to power. In April of 2022, Orban’s Fidesz party secured victory in the national election in Hungary, and the autocrat was re-elected. The EU along with tons of human rights organizations from across the globe have raised alarm over the latest Hungarian laws that are regarded as restricting LGBTQ citizens’ liberties, which Orban labeled as “gender lunacy” at CPAC.