Battle for Hungary 

Hungarian politics is very similar to Israeli politics, and the next battle in the global clash between conservatives and progressives will be for Hungary, writes Tamir Wertzberger, foreign affairs coordinator for Israel’s Likud party. 

If some said Donald Trump’s fall was simply by chance, the change of government in Israel, the replacement of Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud after 12 years, now clearly shows that conservative forces are shrinking globally and the progressive Left is gaining strength. This could change the balance of power on the international stage, leading to radicalized politics and discourse around the world. 

The success of the American and Israeli liberal-progressive Left will obviously motivate their supporters around the world who will want to copy their method in more and more countries considered “conservative bastions.” The next stop is Hungary, and their opponents are Viktor Orbán and Fidesz. 

Hungarian and Israeli politics are very similar in many ways. 

The two countries have almost the same population, the majority of whom are conservative while, at the same time, there are serious ideological and value differences between the capital and the countryside. In both countries, the right has ruled for more than a decade, with a very strong and charismatic leader who has crushed the opposition to the point of disinterest. 

Like Netanyahu, Orbán began his political career in the late 1980s, becoming prime minister for the first time in the 1990s and again in the early 2000s, serving now for more than 10 years. But the similarities do not end there. Nation-building was of paramount importance to both governments, while treating its neighbors and the international community with a pragmatic foreign policy. 

Another similarity is what both Orbán and Netanyahu have proven in foreign policy: historical conflicts can be resolved and large-scale alliances can be made. Netanyahu spoke out against the hostile U.S. Democratic government over Iran’s nuclear deal, and Orbán also opposed the EU, dominated by the Germans and French, over immigration and European values.  

It was only a matter of time before Israel and Hungary became close allies, but we had to wait until the 2015 migration crisis when Orbán acted as the main opponent of the German-French EU principle of admission. 

Netanyahu took the opportunity and later visited Hungary to form a close ally in the EU as well as strengthen security cooperation with the Hungarians. 

But now Orbán’s governance has been seriously challenged, as the Left attempts to implement the plan that worked in America and Israel during the spring 2022 elections. And the results could be even scarier than in Israel. Opposition parties have no real challengers to Orbán. However, in a year and a half, the six parties have formed a coalition, and the only thing uniting them is their desire to abolish Orbán and Fidesz — just as they did in Israel with the anti-Netanyahu bloc. The coalition against Orbán includes the centrist Momentum, the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the neo-Nazi Jobbik. 

Just to remind readers who Jobbik is —  this is the neo-Nazi party that set up the Magyar Gárda (“Hungarian Guard”), which is very similar to the Arrow Cross. Party leaders have made the most anti-Semitic statements in Europe in the last decade. Márton Gyöngyösi, who wanted to list Jews in parliament, is the party’s MEP and vice-president. 

If there is one thing the members of this anti-Orbán coalition have in common, it is resentment against Israel, in which they obviously agree with Jobbik. 

Left-wing parties are not traditionally antisemitic, but belong to political groups in the EU such as the Swedish Social Democrats, who are known to be anti-Israel, or the British Labor Party, which was recently led by Jeremy Corbyn, the same Corbyn who considers Hezbollah  and Hamas his „friends.” 

The battle for Hungary will be decisive: an ideological and values-based battle between the conservative right and the progressive left. 

If the left defeats Victor Orbán, there will be no one who can stop the radical revolution of progressives and the creation of a new world order — and there will be no one who can stop anti-Israel sentiment in the EU, along with growing antisemitism. 

If, on the other hand, the progressives lose in Hungary, the trend could be reversed, and this could re-ignite conservatives from other countries to return to power and prevent the risk posed by the progressive Left to the traditional values of Western civilization and democracy. 

The author is Likud’s foreign affairs coordinator 

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