The GOP Just Asked an Authoritarian to Headline Its Most Important Conference

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will speak at CPAC, in yet another sign of the Republican Party’s anti-democratic aspirations.
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban arrives to the venue on the last day of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban arrives to the venue on the last day of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Just months after American conservatives were criticized for bringing the hugely influential Conservative Political Action Conference to Hungary, that country’s ultra-right-wing authoritarian leader is coming to America.

Viktor Orbán will headline the next edition of CPAC, which is taking place in Dallas from August 4-7, his press secretary told the Hungarian state news agency MTI. The news was confirmed by the American right-wing outlet Daily Caller, which quotes Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union and organizer of CPAC.

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“CPAC is proud to host Prime Minister Viktor Orbán,” Schlapp said. “The fight against socialism is a global one.” CPAC did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.

Orbán, who won his fourth term in office in April, is the EU’s longest-serving leader—after he changed the country’s rules about how long a prime minister can stay in office.

When Orbán headlined CPAC Hungary in May, he outlined a 12-point plan for how other leaders can emulate his capture and consolidation of power. One of the strongman leader’s 12 points was for the government to “have the media”; he told those in attendance that controlling what the media is allowed to say is key to maintaining control.

Since coming to power in 2010, Orbán has effectively silenced Hungarian independent media and now controls virtually all of the country’s television, newspaper, and online media outlets.

Orbán is not currently listed on CPAC’s website as a speaker at the August event, but he will share the stage with Rep. Lauren Boebert, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and most likely former President Donald Trump, who is a regular speaker at CPAC conferences.

Trump has repeatedly praised Orbán’s authoritarian leadership style, and sent a video message that was played at the CPAC Hungary event in May. 

Orbán has overseen a significant level of democratic backsliding during his 12 years in power. Within months of becoming prime minister, Orbán had taken control of the judiciary and attacked the few financial institutions not under the control of his far-right Fidesz Party.

American conservatives have increasingly fawned over Orbán’s achievements, which in recent years have included an attack on LGBTQ and gender equality—with some measures related to the teaching of gender and sexuality in schools that closely echo the “Don’t Say Gay” bill recently passed in Florida.

Central to everything Orbán does is the promotion of traditional family and Christian values, talking points that have now become a mainstay of the Republican Party’s message.

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