Hungarian foreign policy manoeuvres between an occasionally aggressive rhetoric, an ambitious ideology and a more sober and less ambitious diplomatic reality. Fidesz seeks a more assertive foreign policy that marks a break with MSZP’s subservience to foreign domination (Fidesz’ own interpretation) or, alternatively, the Socialists inability to formulate an independent and coherent foreign policy strategy that moves beyond blindly orienting Hungary’s diplomacy along the lines set by powerful actors that Hungarian leader wish to please (our interpretation). While Fidesz has rarely gone beyond rhetoric in challenging major countries and international institutions, the few acts it has done (e.g. the crisis tax) and its occasionally loose cannon rhetoric might cause the country some grief in the future. Some of the grief may be worth it if the goals pursued justify it – as far as mere grandstanding is concerned, however, it’s hardly worth sacrificing diplomatic clout for.
On a rhetorical level at least, Hungarian foreign policy has been in combat mode since the “revolution in the voting booth” last April. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to say that it was our domestic foreign policy that has been in combat mode, if there were such a thing as domestic foreign policy. It appears namely that there are two foreign policies in Hungary right now; the official one is actually conducted in the international arena while the other manifests at Fidesz-rallies.
The first one is mostly pragmatic, with just a hint of critical attitude towards the EU and other international organisations. The latter is fiercely ideological and sometimes extremely disparaging of the international arena and its leading institutions. The past months have shown that despite the Orbán-governments heroic efforts, it is increasingly difficult to keep these two worlds apart.
Policy Solutions' analysis on the Orbán government's foreign policy can be downloaded from here.
Policy Solutions is a progressive political research institute based in Budapest. It was founded in 2008 and it is committed to the values of liberal democracy, solidarity, equal opportunity, sustainability and European integration. The focus of Policy Solutions’ work is on understanding political processes in Hungary and the European Union. Among the pre-eminent areas of our research are the investigation of how the quality of democracy evolves, the analysis of factors driving euroscepticism, populism and the far-right, and election research.
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