Previous Fora / 2003

Viktor Orbán

Prime Minister of Hungary from 1998 until 2002

Viktor Orbán was born on 31 May 1963 in Székesfehérvár. He spent his childhood in Alcsútdoboz and Felcsút.

In 1977 his family moved to Székesfehérvár. He attended the Teleki Blanka Grammar School, where he took his school-leaving examination in 1981. From 1981 to 1982 he performed compulsory military service in Zalaegerszeg.
Since childhood, Orbán has been very fond of sport, and has played for several football teams.

In 1987 he graduated from Eötvös Loránd University, where he received an MA in Law.
After university, from 1987 to 1989, he lived in Szolnok but commuted to Budapest. Between November 1987 and March 1988, he worked as a sociologist for the
Management Training Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

In April 1988 he became a member of the Central European Research Group sponsored by the Soros Foundation. In 1989-90 he received a scholarship from the Soros Foundation to study at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he focussed his attention on English liberal political philosophy.
In 1983 he became a founder member of the Juridical Sociological Collegium (which was renamed István Bibó Collegium in 1988). In 1984, he and several other members of the Collegium established a sociological journal called Századvég. He became one of the editors of this journal.

Orbán was a founder member of the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz), which was officially formed on 30 March 1988. From March 1988 to October 1989, he was a spokesperson for the organisation.
In October 1988, at the first Fidesz conference, he was elected as a member of the national chairmanship, a function he held until October 1989.
On 16 June 1989, Viktor Orbán gave a speech at Heroes´ Square, Budapest, on the occasion of the reburial of Imre Nagy and other national martyrs, in which he demanded free elections and the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The speech brought him wide national and political acclaim. In the summer of 1989 he took part in the Opposition Roundtable negotiations.
Since 1990 he has been a member of the Hungarian parliament. From May 1990 to May 1993 he served as leader of the Fidesz parliamentary fraction.
In May 1993 he was elected as president of Fidesz, and was confirmed in that office at party conferences held in July 1994 and April 1995. At the latter conference, Fidesz changed its name to Fidesz -Hungarian Civic Party.

Under the direction of Orbán, Fidesz was transformed from a radical student movement into a moderate, conservative and patriotic people´s party.
In September 1992, at the Mainz conference, he was elected as vice-chairman of the Liberal International, and in January 1993 he was elected to serve on the executive board of the organisation.

After the parliamentary elections in 1994, he became chairman of the Parliamentary European Integration Committee, and a member of the legal harmonisation sub-committee. From September 1995 to November 1995 he also took part in the work of the Commission on Parliamentary Immunity and Conflict of Interest. He became the chairman of the Hungarian national committee of the New Atlantic Initiative (est. April 1996).

At the 1998 parliamentary elections Orbán was the candidate of the Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Party for the post of Prime Minister. He was elected as Member of Parliament on the Party´s national list.
He became Prime Minister in the coalition government (Fidesz-MPP - FKGP - MDF).

In March 1999 he signed the deed of accession establishing Hungary´s membership of NATO.

In February 2000 he was elected honorary senator of the European Academy of Arts.

In May 2001 he received the Freedom Award of the American Enterprises Institute and the New Atlantic Initiative.

He has held the Polak Award since August 2001.

Prime Minister Orbán is married with four children. His wife is a jurist.