LMP’s András Schiffer sounds an awful lot like Viktor Orbán

April 13, 2016

Viktor Orbán's face superimposed on András Schiffer's head.
Viktor Orbán’s face superimposed on András Schiffer’s head.

Politics Can Be Different (LMP) party co-chair András Schiffer says the refugee crisis has pushed society to the point where it needs to decide about “cultural diversity and multiculturalism.”

His statements were made at a roundtable discussion at the Terror House during an event hosted by a pro-government organization called the XXI. Century Institute, reports Hungarian news site 444.hu.

The institute promulgates a markedly pro-Fidesz interpretation of history and publishes books by Fidesz loyalists, including Zsolt Bayer and Terror House executive director Mária Schmitt (whose son, Péter Ungár, also happens to be an LMP politician).

“My problem with the populists is that we needn’t fear Europe’s islamization, but rather we should be afraid that global capitalism does not tolerate cultural diversity,” Schiffer said at the event.

The LMP politician blamed Hungary’s government for following the United States into Iraq in 2003.

“Hungary did not have a single bad thing to say about the civilization building project known as the Arab Spring,” Schiffer said.

He said the crowds of people dying at the gates of Europe are the “blessed” victims of the exportation of democracy.

According to Schiffer, European efforts to welcome refugees are driven by “serious big business interests, and it’s incredibly underhanded to mask an economic interest in humanitarian aid.”

Sounding a lot like Orbán, isn’t he?

Populism, be it left-wing or right-, seems to be all the rage in Hungary’s political scene today. In an interview with Mandiner back in February, Schiffer did not shy away from pandering to many of the anti-refugee sentiments now commonplace in Hungary.

The LMP co-chair told Mandiner his party misread the “migrant wave” situation a year ago. Schiffer went on to admit that the “migration wave” is a completely new phenomena for which the Geneva Conventions and understanding of their application over the past 50 years provide no guide.

“The size is alarming. We can’t see the end of this flood,” Schiffer said. “According to research by Gallup, 480 million people around the globe will migrate in the coming years, primarily towards Europe.”  According to Schiffer “it is the colonizing politics that is primarily to blame for this, which has been practiced by the West since the turn of the millennium, primarily by the USA but even Europe.”

Schiffer told Mandiner‘s András Stumpf that “unlike Orbán, I believe that one of the positive outcomes of the Second World War was multiculturalism.  But what we are seeing now has very little to do with our hopes in 1968. This has been transformed into the culture of multinational corporations. Just look at the kind of marketing campaigns launched today using the symbols of rebels back then!  It hasn’t been about dialogue among different cultures for a long time.  It’s about putting everyone under a unified culture for the purposes of maximizing profits. LMP is an eco-party and is anti-globalization.  It’s not a liberal party. That’s why we are not trying to find answers for 21st-century problems with 19th- and 20th-century dogmas.”

In the interview, Schiffer touched on recent statements by European politicians about the withholding of EU structural funds from Hungary should Hungary choose not to take part in the relocation of refugees.

“Western Europe’s political elite have made numerous statements in the past five years which amount to an assertion that the EU structural funds are donations. If Eastern Europe behaves itself, it receives them.  If it doesn’t behave itself, it doesn’t receive them. I’ve done a lot of talking about Orbán government’s democracy deficit in the past — not outside the country, but here. I’ve also talked about how what Orbán is doing in many cases goes against EU fundamental values. That said, I always felt that blackmail is wrong. I still do. The structural funds are not given to the government. Even if the [governing party’s] hinterland steals the funds, the EU should investigate. If they find something and enforce sanctions, it’s hard to argue against that. But if we’re not talking about corruption, that is, if we’re about Hungary being blackmailed for political reasons, then we must reject that and call it like it is. The structural funds are not donations. They purchased a market here. European Union expansion wasn’t primarily rooted on values, it was a purchase of our markets,” Schiffer said.