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Stephen Harper Vows to ‘Strengthen’ Ties Between Conservatives and Hungary’s Far-right, Authoritarian Government

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán praises Harper as a ‘great ally’

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization that uncovers and unpacks the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.
Here is why you can trust our journalism.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is forging closer ties between a global alliance of conservative parties and Hungary’s far-right, authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán.

On Thursday, Harper and Orbán tweeted photos of the two leaders at a meeting in Budapest.

Harper, who now serves as Chairman of the International Democratic Union, tweeted that he and Orbán discussed the “importance of centre-right parties strengthening their collaboration.”

Orbán tweeted his own statement thanking Harper for a “great meeting,” adding that “international cooperation between right-wing, conservative parties is more important than ever.”

“Chairman Harper is a great ally in this respect. Thank you for your support, Mr. Chairman!”

Since his defeat in Canada’s 2015 federal election, Harper has taken a role chairing the Munich-based IDU, an alliance of conservative parties across the world.

The IDU’s members include the Conservative Party of Canada, the US Republican Party, the UK Tories, Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and others – including Orbán’s Fidesz Party in Hungary.

According to a promotional video the IDU posted last month, the international organization aims to “bring together legislators, political professionals and thought leaders to build relationships, to share best practices for campaigning and governing and to support the global struggle for freedom and democracy.”

Orbán has been widely-denounced by human rights organizations for his government’s anti-immigrant policies, removing the “right to asylum” and, according to Amnesty International, criminalizing efforts to assist refugees. The government has also passed several anti-LGBTQ+ laws — including bans on material which “encourages” or “popularizes” homosexuality.

In 2018, political science professor Achim Hurrelmann described Fidesz’s ideology to Maclean’s as “anti-migration, emphasizing the Christian roots of Europe and being very much against diversity.”

Prior to tweeting a photo with Harper, Orbán posted a video celebrating an alliance with Poland’s far-right government to resist the European Union’s “mandatory migrant quotas.”

Previously, Orbán made headlines for promising to crackdown on charities that assist refugees – calling all Muslim refugees “invaders.”

In 2019, IDU spokesperson Katalin Novák told Hungary Today that the IDU “considers Fidesz an ally, representing the same values as the international alliance, such as democracy, freedom of religion, protection of Christianity and traditional, conservative values in family policy,”

In 2018, Harper was widely condemned after tweeting his congratulations to the far-right, authoritarian leader of Hungary following his reelection, thanks largely to gerrymandering and rewriting the constitution, as well as stirring anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim paranoia pushed by the country’s media, largely controlled by Orbán’s allies.

In 2021, PressProgress reported Conservative MP Garnett Genuis mingled with anti-LGBTQ+ groups closely tied to Orbán’s Fidesz party, alongside Russian neo-monarchists and enthusiastic supporters of Spain’s far-right.

That same year, Orban’s party left the IDU’s European Parliamentary caucus, the European People’s Party, after other members of the caucus criticized its “democratic backsliding.”

 

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Mitchell Thompson
Reporter
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

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