BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — For the second year running, Hungary will host a conference in May of mainly U.S. and European conservatives as its right-wing populist government, largely isolated in Europe, seeks allies with like-minded movements further afield.
The American Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, will host its second event in Europe under the motto “Together we are strong,” according to a statement from the conference organizer released on Monday.
Organizers say they have invited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to give the keynote speech at the conference in the capital, Budapest. This year’s event, taking place May 4-5, will “focus on the liberals’ nightmare: the international coalescence of national forces,” organizers wrote.
The two-day conference, much like its first iteration in May 2022, reflects a deepening of ties between the American right wing and Orban’s autocratic government. The burgeoning alliance with Orban has led some U.S. commentators to warn of American conservatives allegedly embracing anti-democratic tactics.
Currently serving his fourth consecutive term, Orban has prompted a backlash in the European Union for his taking control of Hungary’s media and democratic institutions under what he calls an “illiberal democracy.”
The EU has withheld billions in funding from Orban’s government, and predicated its release on the implementation of a raft of anti-corruption and rule-of-law reforms which the bloc hopes will bring Hungary back into the fold of more moderate European democracies.
Yet Orban has garnered the admiration of some segments of the American right for his tough stance on immigration and LGBTQ issues and his rejection of liberal pluralism. In an address opening the CPAC Hungary conference last year, Orban called Hungary “the bastion of conservative Christian values in Europe,” and urged U.S. conservatives to defeat “the dominance of progressive liberals in public life” as he said he had done in Hungary.
After being invited to speak at CPAC’s main conference in Dallas last August, Orban received a standing ovation, and told attendees that “we must take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find friends and allies in one another.”
Justin Spike, The Associated Press