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US conservatives open conference in Orban’s Hungary

The chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC), Matt Schlapp, delivers the welcome speech at the CPAC conference in Budapest, Hungary, May 19, 2022. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)
The chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC), Matt Schlapp, delivers the welcome speech at the CPAC conference in Budapest, Hungary, May 19, 2022. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Dozens of prominent conservatives from Europe, the United States and elsewhere gather in Hungary as the American Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, is held in Europe for the first time.

The two-day conference reflects a deepening of ties between the American right wing and the autocratic government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The burgeoning alliance with Orban has led some US commentators to warn of American conservatives allegedly embracing anti-democratic tactics.

During his 12 years in power, Orban has generated controversy in the European Union for rolling back of democratic institutions under what he calls an “illiberal democracy,” but 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.

Delivering the opening address of the two-day conference, Orban calls Hungary “the bastion of conservative Christian values in Europe,” and urges US conservatives to defeat “the dominance of progressive liberals in public life” as he said he had done in Hungary.

“We have to take the institutions back in Washington and Brussels,” Orban says. “We must find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops.”

Also appearing at the conference in Budapest are several members of Orban’s government and figures from the American right associated with the branch of the Republican party aligned with former US president Donald Trump.

The conference is the American political right’s latest embrace of Orban, whom Trump has lavished with praise. Trump — described by aides as being particularly enamored with dictators and authoritarian leaders during his time in office — endorsed Orban’s bid for reelection and urged Hungarian voters to give him another term.

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