Why Stephen Harper congratulating Viktor Orbán matters - 2018-04-10

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F253.png Why Stephen Harper congratulating Viktor Orbán matters April 10, 2018, John Geddes, Macleans

In Canada, Viktor Orban isn't a household name. So when Orban's notorious populist party, called Fidesz, won re-election in Hungary on Apr. 8, Canadian commentary didn't amount to much. At least, not until former prime minister Stephen Harper, in his new role chairing the International Democrat Union (IDU), an umbrella organization for centre-right parties around the world, woke us up by tweeting, "Congratulations to Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Hungary's Fidesz for winning a decisive fourth term! The IDU and I are looking forward to working with you."

I emailed Harper's office asking about the tweet, and his assistant noted in response that the IDU's customary practice of issuing congratulatory messages whenever one of the groups's member parties wins an election predates Harper getting the job only a couple of months ago. And Fidesz is indeed an IDU member. Still, was it really necessary to remind the world that Orban, who has systematically undermined Hungary's previously thriving democracy, has now won four times? Was that exclamation point an integral element in established IDU congratulations protocol?

I'm only partly joking about parsing the fine points of the tweet. Tone matters. If this were only a pro forma note, Harper is more than capable, as anyone who followed him in Canadian politics can attest, of draining any message of liveliness or affect. And, by his own stated standard, he would have had grounds for keeping any hint of enthusiasm out of this one. After all, Harper has said that his aim as IDU chair is partly "ensuring that we address the concerns of frustrated conservatives and that they do not drift to extreme options."

Wikipedia cite:
{{cite news | first = John | last = Geddes | title = Why Stephen Harper congratulating Viktor Orbán matters | url = https://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/why-stephen-harper-congratulating-viktor-orban-matters/ | work = Macleans | date = April 10, 2018 | accessdate = October 7, 2021 }}