Orbán, Viktor (vĭkˈôr ôrˈbän) [key], 1963–, Hungarian political leader. A lawyer, Orbán was (1988) one of the founders of Fidesz, a liberal democratic youth group that under his leadership (1993–2000) became a strongly conservative and nationalist anticommunist political party. Orbán was elected to the Hungarian parliament in 1990. In 1998 Fidesz won a parliamentary plurality and formed a center-right coalition government; Orbán became prime minister. He moved Hungary further toward a market-driven economy and helped facilitate its entry (1999) into NATO, but he also won a reputation as a divisive figure and strained relations with neighboring countries by passing legislation extending rights and benefits to ethnic Hungarians living there. His coalition lost power after the 2002 elections. In 2009, Orbán was again elected head of Fidesz, and he became (2010) prime minister a second time when Fidesz won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections. His subsequent use of his majority to enshrine his party's doctrines in the constitution and entrench his supporters in the government resulted in international criticism. He avoided adopting austerity measures during recession in part by levying higher taxes on sectors of the economy dominated by foreign companies.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.