"We mustn't fool ourselves": 'Orbánian' discourse in the political battle over the refugee crisis and European identity

Agnes Bolonyai, Kelsey Campolong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The historic wave of refugees reaching Europe in 2015 was met with a volatile
mixture of ethno-nationalist, anti-Muslim fearmongering and political infighting
within the European Union (EU). Perhaps no one was more influential in
promulgating fear and anti-refugee sentiment than Viktor Orbán, the Prime
Minister of Hungary, whose inflammatory rhetoric and uncompromising, illiberal
political stance helped escalate the refugee-crisis in a discursive battle of political wills, ideologies, and identity politics within the EU. This paper explores how Orbán employs political discourse practices and strategies to enact his right-wing populist (RWP) ideology and anti-immigrant ‘politics of fear’ (Wodak 2015) vis-à-vis EU politicians’ pro-migration discourses. Adopting a broad critical discourse-analytic approach, we demonstrate Orbán’s iterative production of discourses of threat and defense underlying discourses of fear (law and order, cultural/religious difference), and discourses of oppositional political identities and ideologies through fractal recursion. We argue that recursive performance of RWP stances creates a recognizable political style characteristic of Orbán’s RWP political persona or type.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Aggression in Public Debates on Immigration
EditorsAndreas Musolff
Place of PublicationAmsterdam/Philadelphia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Electronic)9789027262660
ISBN (Print)9789027262394
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Apr 2019


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