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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Sergio Velasco: “Hungary and Poland’s model works and that is why they are so targeted by the EU”.

By: Álvaro Peñas

Interview with Sergio Velasco, political scientist and creator of the “Political Philosophy” project, on Hungary and Poland, and the alternative model they represent in the European Union. 

Why are you interested in Hungary and Poland?

It all stems from my first trip to Hungary when I was studying political science. I did a paper on Hungarian politics and I liked what I discovered. For example, when Orbán arrives and makes an economic reform by lowering taxes or decreasing public spending. That caught my attention because of the more “liberal” economic side and then I liked above all the more moral or conservative side when it comes to family policies, something that has hardly been touched by the European Union, which does not seem to care about the demographic crisis that Europe is suffering. Getting to know Hungary led me to Poland, which has similar policies, and thus began my fondness for both countries. I have been back to Hungary several times and I have yet to visit Poland and other Eastern European countries. I think it is very important to present the vision of these countries, not only the Western one, which are very unknown in Spain and in the Hispanic world. The best way to compare policies or a problem is to do it from different points of view.

You spoke of the liberal policies of Orbán, who defines himself as “illiberal”, that is, putting the Hungarian nation and culture above all else. And then there is Poland, which, starting from a conservative liberal right, has been copying the Hungarian model.

Yes, in fact I interviewed Zoltan Kovacs, who is the spokesman for Viktor Orbán’s government, and I asked him about this term because it is often quoted in the Western media. Kovacs told me that when they referred to “illiberal” they were not referring to classical liberalism, of which they respected many of its representatives, but they were referring to that perversion of liberalism that is progressivism or the Democratic party in the United States. With regard to Poland, one can see that the shift to the conservative model has copied, and even made joint policies with, Hungary.

I am referring to the recovery of strategic industries for the State and to social measures to support the birth rate and the family, and in favour of the poorest classes, such as limitations on the price of gas or electricity. Measures that, curiously enough, are not applied by progressive governments.

Yes, I totally agree with that. In fact, in Poland they define themselves as social capitalism, an open market in which people can invest and make private capital grow, but at the same time with certain limitations for strategic sectors and to carry out the public policies they consider appropriate. Orbán said at a conference in Rome in 2020: “All this that I am doing at the level of my country, I know that it is highly criticised and that it will continue to be criticised, but if I were not economically profitable with my policies, the next day they would cut my head off”. In other words, we have a model, we have ideas, but to make them a reality we need to be economically successful. Orbán often says that what most angers the progressive countries of the European Union is that Hungary is an alternative model because it is a model of success. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t care about them, but the fact is that the model works and that’s why Hungary and Poland are so targeted.

Which party do you think could implement such a policy in Spain?

It’s a complicated question. The first thing that comes to my mind is VOX and, in part, some things could be similar, but the truth is that the way of thinking of a Hungarian is so different from that of an average Spaniard that it is very difficult. In Spain, for an ordinary person, talking about Christian values sounds rancid and old-fashioned, and is directly related to Francoism, which makes it very difficult to raise certain things. In Hungary and Poland it is different. So really the only Spanish party that could take some of those measures would be VOX. Of the little that is good in the Popular Party, I would highlight that Ayuso has given aids to the family. However, I don’t think that right now any Spanish party can achieve what Orbán has done in Hungary or Morawicki and Duda in Poland.

Speaking of VOX and the PP, you took part in a conference on 8 June in Madrid, “Liberals and conservatives: friends or enemies?”, which was attended by a member of parliament from VOX, Francisco José Contreras, and another from the Madrid PP, Sergio Brabezo.

Ever since I became interested in politics there has always been this debate about whether or not liberals should join the conservatives. At the conference I gave a historical introduction and argued that there is a common enemy, socialism, and that the best way to defeat it is to do it together. And Francisco José Contreras also pointed out that the first liberals were morally conservative. I believe that such unions should and will happen. We can see it in Law and Justice in Poland, in the Hungarian Fidesz, in VOX and even in some cases in the PP, although they cannot be categorised as either liberal or conservative. The space is so short that to separate ourselves when the hegemony is held by the left and progressivism is to throw stones on our own back. Once those who take away our freedoms and rights have been defeated, we will be able to enter into other, more transcendental debates. Any other approach is useless and gives the left free reign.

You are currently working on the publication of a book. 

I decided to write the book at the beginning of last year because I had to prepare my Final Degree Project and, since I had to write so much, it was a good time to work on it. I want to finish it this summer and I’m already talking to a publisher. The subject of the book is what we have been talking about in this interview, Hungary and Poland, and how they have transformed their country since Fidesz came to power in 2010 and Law and Justice in 2015. And how they have been improving these policies, using indicators such as fertility rates and others, and whether they are really an alternative to Western systems. Explaining also whether they are a model of success and why so many people vote for these parties.

As much as it is said here that they are fascists, there is a real reason why they have so much popular support. And the truth is that these parties have a long-term vision and are not thinking about the next election, they are thinking about what their countries will be like in 10 or 20 years. They are long-term managers, something that is sorely lacking in Western countries. That is why they choose family policies and not the easy and chaotic path of mass immigration. In the book I try to explain all this and add a historical context so that the reader understands why Hungarians and Poles think this way, and why these parties work so well there. And at the end I also consider on whether this can be extrapolated to other countries.

El Correo de España

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