Hungarian-Americans agree with President Clinton: Orbán is a Putin-clone

A couple of days ago President Bill Clinton talked about the Hungarian and Polish governments during a rally in New Jersey. “Poland and Hungary – two countries that would not be free but for the United States and the long Cold War – have now decided this democracy is too much trouble,” and continued to say “they want Putin-like dictatorships.”

Clinton drew parallels between Republican candidate Donald Trump and the current rhetoric of the Hungarian and Polish governments, and said “Just give me an authoritarian dictatorship and keep the foreigners out, sound familiar?” (Watch President Clinton’s statement here.)

U.S. President Bill Clinton

U.S. President Bill Clinton

Hungarian-American organizations have criticized President Clinton’s statements and defended Viktor Orbán. Mr. Frank Koszorus of The Hungarian-American Federation issued a joint letter with Mr. Frank Spula of the Polish American Congress claiming that they are “disturbed by the offensive comments made last week by former President Bill Clinton impugning the civic character of the populations of Poland and Hungary.” (Read the letter here.)

Of course, Mr. Koszorus may voice his views but he shouldn’t pose as the representative of all Hungarians. Mr. Koszorus barely speaks Hungarian, yet he claims to be an expert of “the civic character” of the populations of Hungary.

Mr. Frank Koszorus, The Hungarian-American Federation (left) and US Ambassador Colleen Bell (third from left) in Budapest

Mr. Frank Koszorus, The Hungarian-American Federation (left) and US Ambassador Colleen Bell (third from left) in Budapest

Hungarian-Americans have always opposed totalitarian regimes and overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party. The majority of Hungarian-Americans voted for President Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and also support President Obama. In the 1930s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an even more popular president among Hungarian-Americans.

Many of us agree with President Clinton that Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made a worrisome turn toward authoritarianism and think that the Obama administration should initiate policy steps. Mr. Orbán calls his style of government “illiberal democracy,” and considers Russian President Vladimir Putin his role-model.

I’m sure that most Hungarian-Americans are baffled by Mr. Orbán’s paranoid counter accusations of President Clinton. He has called him the pawn of a “shadow empire,” saying that “behind the leaders of the Democratic Party we must see George Soros. The mouth is Clinton’s but the voice is of George Soros.” Orbán has also said that he agrees with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law & Justice party, that those who are critical of his policies “should undergo medical checks.”

It might be time to consider a new Hungarian-American organization to represent the sentiments of the majority of Hungarian-Americans, because we don’t want to see a Putin-like dictatorship in Hungary.

In the past, the Polish American Congress expressed strong criticism of Russian President Putin. I called Mr. Spula’s office to inquire about his surprising support of pro-Putin Viktor Orbán. I was told that he was busy and couldn’t answer questions but would be happy to respond to written inquiries.

Mr. Frank Spula, Polish American Congress (with award) supports pro-Putin Viktor Orbán

Mr. Frank Spula, Polish American Congress (with award) supports pro-Putin Viktor Orbán

I ask again: Why does the Polish American Congress support pro-Putin Viktor Orbán? Many of my Polish-American friends would love to know the answer. We hope that Mr. Spula soon find time to respond.

György Lázár


  1. Avatar Godfrey Pinefoot says:

    I am amazed there is a 23% lunatic fringe still in Hungary. Clinton is a molester by any definition bring on the Trumpster.

  2. Of course I would agree completely with the sentiments underlying György Lázár’s posting.

    But it’s important to separate wishful thinking from objective reality:

    I wish it were true that most or many “Hungarian-Americans agree with President Clinton: Orbán is a Putin-clone.” But is there any evidence that it is true?

    Although I have no idea of the relative numbers, I have been dismayed by the large number of Hungarian-Americans (and Hungarian-Canadians), some of them living under liberal democracies for decades, echo whatever sentiment the current Hungarian regime floats. Perhaps these are indeed Trump supporters rather than Democratic voters?

    (I am of course equally dismayed by the extent of the support that an abomination like Trump — the US counterpart of Viktor Orbán — enjoys even from native citizens.)

  3. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Stevan,

    Hungarian-Americans vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party and supported Clinton in the past. According to the US Census there are 1.5 million Hungarian-Americans (a highly questionable number) and 90% don’t speak any Hungarian.

    They live mainly in Blue states and over 60% voted for Clinton, Obama etc. Even in Ohio, which is a swing state, Hungarian-Americans vote for the Democratic Party, the co-chair of the Hungarian Caucus is Ohio Democrat Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who seems to support Bernie Sanders. (Yes, Bernie..!)

    It is true that the most vocal Hungarian-American organizations (you hear them quite often) are under Republican leadership and act as lobbyists for PM Orbán. They don’t represent the majority of the Hungarian-American community.

  4. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    Approx 5% of diaspora Hungarians in Canada and the USA participate in or have membership in an institutionalized, or registered American-Hungarian or Canadian-Hungarian community organization, and the majority of these are senior citizens. This is an empirically verifiable fact.

    Of this 5% at least two third is vocally supportive of the Orbán regime, because the latter, very astutely, articulates (though in practice, it ignores) values that are dear to the heart of this elderly community: Anti-communism, Christianity and national pride. The Orbán regime spends vast amounts of public funds to not only hide evidence of the dissonance between its words and its actions from these cohorts, but to buy its political support for Fidesz, the ruling political party of Hungary.

    Orbán’s government uses Hungarian taxpayer’s money, to provide direct financial grants, awards, scholarships, decorations to those people in the USA, Canada and other strategic spots, who praise, or are silent about the the government Party’s political wrongdoings. In countries where the rule of law and free political competition applies, this practice is banned, in Hungary it is the daily practice, since Fidesz came to power.

    The name for the Orbán regime’s method of political legitimation is affinity fraud, and it is a grand master of it. It’s a simple formula: You say one thing and do something entirely different, and make sure, no one finds out the truth about this dissonance. Like Putin’s Russia, the Hungarian anti-communist leader’s security apparatus is run by former security agents of the one party State. Prime Minister Orbán, President Áder, the President of the Hungarian Parliament, Mr Kövér, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Pintér were all card carrying communists before 1990, they were all climbing up the communist ladder towards power, when Gorbachev pulled the ladder out from under their feet. They simply changed their ladder, and continue the same kind of affinity fraud their predecessors had perfected.

    Orbán claims his country is performing better than any time in the past. The fact is, during the last quarter of 2015, first quarter of 2016, Hungary was the worst GDP performer in the EU. Poverty is growing faster than the Hungarian GDP. To hide the evidence, the system of measuring poverty by the state has been changed. Government sanctioned corruption is the highest in the EU, living standard growth is the slowest in the OECD, competitive rates are much worse now, than before Orbán came to power. Prime agricultural land has been divied up among the cronies of Orbán, the same goes for banks and major corporations. The, educational and healthcare sector has been vandalized. According to the latest surveys, more than two thirds of Hungary’s youth have publicly stated that if they could they would high tail it out of their homeland as fast as their legs could carry them. Without the EU taxpayers’ subsidies, that constitute more than 90% of Hungary’s public economic development funding, this country would be bankrupt, and in a worse state than Greece.

    It is harder to gauge what are the views of the 95% of diaspora Hungarians who do not support or participate in the activities of their local community organizations, because anyone who voices an opinion publicly, that is critical of the Orbán regime, is immediately excommunicated – a case in point is the publisher of this on-line paper, Christopher Adam, the author of this article, György Lázár, or my humbleness, the author of this little comment.


    “Poland’s markets losing lustre as Hungary’s star shines”

    “Hungary… a star performer.”

    “Hungary’s stocks have soared 70 percent and its local bonds have surged in the last two years.”

    “The Hungarian government and central bank were hailed as geniuses”

    “Hungary[‘s] rating upgrade last Friday made it the first emerging economy to make the leap to investment grade in two years.”

    Even just as a local pairwise comparison relative to junk grade, it is hilarious hype.

  6. What interests drive Clinton to pay so much attention to Hungary and Poland in the midst of his wife’s campaign for presidency? Interesting anyhow. Where could the U.S. or Hillary benefit from her wingman criticizing these countries? On the other hand, he is not stupid and wouldn’t do that without reason. What is that?

  7. Pingback: Polish-American community leaders speak up against illiberalism and threat to democracy in Poland

  8. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    @ Observer

    You are not very observant. Your conspiracy theory is so shallow. Clinton, Obama, McCain, the Italian PM, the former Czech President, Havel, along with many Western leaders, and democrats of various political persuasion, are criticizing the Orbán regime, because of its rule of law violations, and its assault on the values that form the basis of the Euro-Atlantic community. Liberalism, Social Democracy is not a plague to be exterminated but one of the fundamental values of our collective political culture, values we swore to uphold. Wake up !

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