Longtime Advisor to Victor Orban has resigned in protest at “a pure Nazi speech” delivered by the Hungarian prime minister that was “worthy of Goebbels”.
Zsuzsa Hegedüs, one of Orbán’s oldest advisers, has known the prime minister since 2002 and described her relations with him as friendly. However, in her resignation letter, published by the Hungarian media hvg.hu on Tuesday, she said she grew increasingly uncomfortable with Orbán’s “illiberal turn” in recent years.
Orbán has made anti-immigration rhetoric a key part of his political platform since 2015, frequently using far-right language, but his speech on saturday – in which he spoke out against “race mixing” – was extreme even by his standards.
In the speech, Orbán said mixing between Europeans was acceptable, but mixing Europeans with non-Europeans created “mixed-race” people.
“We are willing to mix, but we don’t want to become mestizo peoples,” Orbán said. He added that countries where this was considered acceptable “are no longer nations.”
Hegedüs said he had long defended the prime minister from accusations of anti-Semitism, but believed his latest speech was indefensible. “I am sincerely sorry that such an embarrassing stance forced me to break off our relationship,” he wrote.
Orbán’s office published its response to Hegedüs accepting his resignation but denying it was racist.
“You can’t be serious about accusing me of racism after 20 years of working together. You know better than anyone that in Hungary my government follows a policy of zero tolerance for both antisemitism and racism,” he wrote.
Orbán’s speech, delivered at an event in Băile Tuşnad, Romania, where he traditionally makes an annual keynote address, sparked an immediate backlash within Hungary and abroad.
Such criticism is nothing new, and Orbán thrives on his portrayal as a fighter against so-called political correctness and Europe’s liberal elites. However, resignations on principle from his inner circle are extremely rare and show that even among some parts of the right there is concern about how his rhetoric on race is playing out.
Next week Orbán will travel to Dallas, where he will open CPAC Texas, a gathering of American conservatives. Orbán counts former US President Donald Trump among his many admirers on the American right.
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