RussiaMay 10 2023, 3:58 am

CPAC Hungary 2023: A Showcase of the Global National Conservative Alliance

Imag­ine a world where Rus­sia leads a new glob­al alliance of con­ser­v­a­tives who share its val­ues and vision. That’s what Pres­i­dent Putin wants, and he has found some eager allies in Europe’s far-right move­ments. A Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report revealed how Hun­gary is the hub of a grow­ing net­work of nation­al­ists and con­ser­v­a­tives from both sides of the Atlantic who could help Rus­sia spread its pro­pa­gan­da and influ­ence. They call them­selves “Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tives,” and they reject glob­al­ism, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, and lib­er­al democ­ra­cy. They are also break­ing away from the tra­di­tion­al US con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gy that was shaped by Reagan.

This Glob­al Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Alliance (GNCA) was on full dis­play last week as the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC), the annu­al love­fest of the US Right, took its show to Europe for the sec­ond time. The venue: Budapest, the cap­i­tal of Hun­gary, a coun­try that has become a bas­tion of illib­er­al democ­ra­cy under the rule of its auto­crat­ic Prime Min­is­ter, Vik­tor Orban.

The event, held on May 4th and 5th at the Bàlna (Whale) Con­fer­ence Cen­ter, was orga­nized by the Cen­ter for Fun­da­men­tal Rights, a Hun­gar­i­an pro­pa­gan­da out­let affil­i­at­ed with Orbán’s rul­ing par­ty Fidesz, and the Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive Union (ACU), the group behind the orig­i­nal CPAC in the US. The theme of the con­fer­ence was “Unit­ed We Stand,” but it was clear that what unit­ed these speak­ers was not a com­mit­ment to free­dom, democ­ra­cy, or human rights but a shared hos­til­i­ty to lib­er­al­ism, mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, and LGBTQ+ rights.

This was not the first time that CPAC was held in Hun­gary. The first Euro­pean edi­tion took place in Budapest in 2022 under the slo­gan of “God, Home­land, Fam­i­ly” and fea­tured con­tro­ver­sial fig­ures, includ­ing known Hun­gar­i­ans racists such as Zsolt Bay­er, who had pre­vi­ous­ly called Jews “stink­ing excre­ment,” referred to Roma as “ani­mals” and used racial epi­thets to describe Black peo­ple. The event also fea­tured speech­es from Don­ald Trump, Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son, and Trump’s for­mer White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Hun­gar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban, who had recent­ly won him­self a fourth term, head­lined the 2022 event, lay­ing out a 12-point blue­print for achiev­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing pow­er. Orban pro­claimed that with his fourth elec­toral vic­to­ry, Hun­gary had been “com­plete­ly healed” of “pro­gres­sive dom­i­nance.” He sug­gest­ed it was time for the right to join forces. “We have to take back the insti­tu­tions in Wash­ing­ton and Brussels.”

As he had in 2022, Orbán deliv­ered the keynote speech­es for the 2023 event where he likened lib­er­al­ism to a “virus” that threat­ens to destroy the tra­di­tion­al foun­da­tions of soci­ety. He praised Hun­gary’s mod­el of “illib­er­al democ­ra­cy” as a suc­cess­ful alter­na­tive to the West­ern lib­er­al order. He urged far-right activists to “play by our own rules” and “make friends and build com­mu­ni­ties” across the world.

Among the speak­ers who joined Orbán on stage or via video mes­sages were sev­er­al promi­nent fig­ures of the Euro­pean far-right, such as Her­bert Kickl from the Aus­tri­an Free­dom Par­ty (FPÖ), Andrej Babiš from the Czech Repub­lic, San­ti­a­go Abas­cal from Spain’s Vox par­ty and Jor­dan Bardel­la from France’s Nation­al Ral­ly par­ty. They all expressed their admi­ra­tion for Orbán’s poli­cies and sol­i­dar­i­ty with his vision of a Europe based on Chris­t­ian val­ues, nation­al iden­ti­ty, and cul­tur­al homogeneity.

The con­fer­ence also fea­tured noto­ri­ous guests from the US, such as Tuck­er Carl­son, the recent­ly fired Fox News host known for spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Carl­son enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly told the audi­ence via a pre-record­ed mes­sage that they were “very brave” to trav­el to Hun­gary since they would end up on a gov­ern­ment list. “The State Depart­ment is keep­ing track! You went to a for­bid­den coun­try!” he assert­ed. Embar­rass­ing­ly he con­tin­ued, “I wish I was there in Budapest. If I ever get fired and have some time and can leave, I will be there with you. But in the mean­time, God­speed, we are think­ing of you and cheer­ing you on.”

Two US con­gress­men also attend­ed the con­fer­ence: Paul Gosar and Bar­ry Moore, both mem­bers of the far-right Free­dom Cau­cus and staunch sup­port­ers of for­mer pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. They met with Orbán and praised his lead­er­ship while ignor­ing the human rights vio­la­tions and demo­c­ra­t­ic back­slid­ing in Hun­gary. Gosar also tweet­ed a pic­ture with Jack Poso­biec, a far-right activist and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist who was also present at CPAC Hungary.

Poso­biec is a for­mer naval intel­li­gence offi­cer who has pro­mot­ed var­i­ous hoax­es and false claims, such as the Piz­za­gate con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that alleged a child sex ring involv­ing Hillary Clin­ton and oth­er Democ­rats. He has also been accused of hav­ing ties to white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis. He is cur­rent­ly a host on One Amer­i­ca News Net­work (OANN), a pro-Trump media out­let banned from YouTube for spread­ing Covid-19 misinformation.

Far-right ide­o­logue Steve Ban­non was also in atten­dance, where he report­ed­ly said in a “fiery speech” that his war against Fox News will get “a lot nas­ti­er” after he blast­ed the net­work for “dis­re­spect­ing” for­mer Pres­i­dent Donald.

The clos­ing act was deliv­ered by Don­ald Trump him­self, who, in a vir­tu­al address, empha­sized the need for change, dis­miss­ing the cur­rent “woke and weaponized gov­ern­ment” and affirm­ing his intent for a pres­i­den­tial rerun. In a 90-minute speech, he reit­er­at­ed his false claim of win­ning the 2020 elec­tion and pledged his com­mit­ment to a poten­tial sec­ond term. Trump crit­i­cized the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies, promis­ing to end the Ukraine war and reduce US for­eign aid. He also crit­i­cized estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans from the 2010s, dis­tanc­ing him­self from the par­ty’s old ideals and fig­ures like Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.

A US LGBTQ advo­ca­cy group accused the con­fer­ence of giv­ing a plat­form to anti-LGBTQ+ speak­ers mak­ing attacks on “woke” cul­ture and mar­gin­al­ized communities.

Oth­er atten­dees at CPAC Hun­gary, notable for their extrem­ism or extrem­ist ties:

  • Lau­ren Witzke, a QAnon sup­port­er and for­mer Sen­ate can­di­date from Delaware
  • Kari Lake, an elec­tion denier and for­mer guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date from Arizona
  • Hiroa­ki “Jay” Aeba, a Japan­ese politi­cian who believes he is the Mes­si­ah and sells “mir­a­cle cures” for COVID-19.
  • Janez Janša, a for­mer Sloven­ian prime min­is­ter known for embrac­ing con­spir­a­cy theories
  • Har­ald Vil­im­sky, an FPÖ mem­ber of the Euro­pean Parliament
  • Gior­gia Mel­oni, an Ital­ian far-right leader who did not attend in per­son but sent a video message
  • Josh Ham­mer, an opin­ion edi­tor at Newsweek
  • Gavin Wax, a New York Repub­li­can leader who has asso­ci­at­ed with Proud Boys
  • André Ven­tu­ra, the leader of Por­tu­gal’s­far-right racist Chega party
  • Matan Peleg, the CEO of Im Tirtzu, a Zion­ist group that paints human rights activists as trai­tors to Israel
  • Iri­na Shu­milo­va, a Russ­ian nation­al­ist activist who has sup­port­ed Putin’s annex­a­tion of Crimea.




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