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The Orbanization of America: The U.S. right walks in Hungary’s path

By Ishaan Tharoor

17 May 2022 · 5 min read

In the summer of 2018, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared war on a generation. He foresaw a wave of right-wing, nationalist parties supplanting the European Union's liberal establishment in European Parliamentary elections the following year. "We are facing a big moment: We are saying goodbye not simply to liberal democracy . . . but to the 1968 elite," Orban said.

By invoking the "1968 elite," Orban was deploying a loaded shorthand for the prevailing status quo on the continent. To Orban, the political unrest and student uprisings that took place in parts of Europe a half century prior were the progenitors of the current social-cultural orthodoxy - marked by ascendant feminism, atheism and leftist cosmopolitanism - that he wanted to overthrow. He had spent the years since coming to power in 2010 transforming his nation of 10 million people into a kind of petri dish for illiberal democracy. And now it was time for the Hungarian model to get exported.

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