Five takeaways from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s meeting with far-right French leader Le Pen

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen targeted so-called “imperialism” and the “migratory flow” of the European Union at a joint press conference in Budapest on Tuesday .

The sharp criticism comes amid heightened tensions between Brussels and several Eastern European countries – notably Poland and Hungary – over the rule of law.

The two leaders expressed support for the Polish Constitutional Court’s ruling that parts of EU law were incompatible with the Polish constitution and called on Brussels to respect the sovereignty of member states.

For Le Pen, it was a much-anticipated meeting, just a month after Eric Zemmour, a controversial French television expert widely awaited for the April 2022 presidential election, made the same trip. He was accompanied by Marion Maréchal – Le Pen’s niece.

“Everything is in the symbol,” said Jean-Yves Camus, director of the Observatory of Radical Policies at the Jean Jaurès Foundation. The political expert noted that this was the second time this month that France’s far-right leader has held talks with a European head of government, after meeting Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last week.

Orban had so far avoided meeting Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally (RN). But he apparently changed his mind after his party left the right-wing European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament in March, after years of criticism of the rule of law in his country.

Here are five key takeaways from meeting two politicians.

1. The EU implements the new “Brezhnev doctrine”, according to Orban

Le Pen and Orban both attacked the European Union in unusually strong terms during the press conference.

The Hungarian leader even compared the EU’s “ideological pressure” on migration and open societies to a new “Brezhnev doctrine”, a reference to Soviet foreign policy calling on Moscow to intervene – including militarily – in country where the socialist regime was threatened.

While he acknowledged that the interventions with Soviet tanks were “much more brutal than the Brussels infringement procedures”, he lambasted a “modernized form” of Soviet doctrine aimed at bringing all EU countries ” in a single ideological framework “.

Le Pen used a similar rhetoric, denouncing the “centralized” and “authoritarian” regime in Brussels while defending “the diversity of peoples” within a European Union founded on sovereignty.

“With the European Union, we are no longer dealing with a desire for cooperation, but a desire for subjugation, no longer to an intergovernmental organization, but to a real empire. We believe in creative force and diversity peoples, ”she said.

2. Build a new right-wing movement at European level

Orban said he had to quit the center-right EPP because of the “dominant left ideology” gaining ground there and referred to the joint statement issued in July for a new political formation to the right of the right.

He pledged to “speed up the process in the coming months”.

Camus said this essentially meant “starting from scratch” since “nothing has changed” since the July declaration.

The expert noted that with the two leaders busy with their own national electoral agendas, the new political alliance was doomed to make “slow progress”.

Orban in particular is facing “united opposition” for the first time in the 2022 spring legislative elections, Camus noted, so forming a new group in the European Parliament may not be his first priority.

3. Denounce the EU’s powerlessness in the face of rising energy prices, migration crisis

Unsurprisingly, the two leaders criticized the European Union’s helplessness in the face of migration.

Le Pen declared that migration was a “scourge from which our nations must imperatively protect themselves” and criticized the “migratory flow that the EU wants to organize”.

Orban said that as energy prices soared at the EU level, the EU was “unable to curb them”.

He added that the new climate bill known as “Fit for 55” was “not going to remedy the situation but would only make matters worse”, allegedly “ruining the European middle class, including including that of France “by” tax increases “.

4. Orban does not take sides in the French presidential election

Orban was very careful not to take sides between Zemmour and Le Pen in the next French presidential election.

When a journalist asked him which of the two he supported after welcoming them both in a month, the Hungarian leader replied: “We should not take a stand for the French.”

“If guests come from France, we always receive them with honor.

5. Minimize disagreements

But according to Camus, even if Orban is right to “hold all the cards”, he could ultimately be ideologically closer to Le Pen’s rival, Zemmour.

“Zemmour is much more compatible because he is more radical, more radical in his rejection of immigration, more radical in his rejection of Islam and his retrograde view of the EU and its member countries,” said Camus.

On social issues, such as abortion or LGBTQ rights, Le Pen’s positions are also more liberal than those of his Hungarian host.

Despite their disagreements on a range of issues, Orban and Le Pen played down their differences.

When asked if she agrees with Hungary’s controversial anti-LGBTQ legislation, Ms Le Pen said it wouldn’t occur to her to ‘lecture other countries and tell them what To do “.

Laura T. Thrasher