- 17 Jan 2012 8:00 AM
From 1988, he was a member of the Central-Eastern Europe study group, a programme financed by the Soros Foundation. In 1989-1990, Mr Orbán studied the history of British liberal political philosophy in Pembroke College, Oxford, sponsored by the Soros Foundation.
On 30 March, 1988, as a founding member of the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz), he became a politician well-known throughout the Western world for his commitment to an independent and democratic Hungary free of privileges, and an advocate of joining the Euro-Atlantic alliance.
On 16 June, 1989, at the reburial ceremony of former PM Imre Nagy, who was executed after leading the Hungarian revolution and uprising in October 1956, Viktor Orbán made a speech in which he demanded that all Soviet troops be immediately withdrawn from Hungary, and that free elections be held. He was a member of the delegation to the Opposition Roundtable in the summer of 1989.
Mr Orbán has been an MP since the first free elections following the regime-change in 1990.
In May, 1993, he was elected the chairman of Fidesz. Under his leadership, the party changed its profile from a radical youth movement to a moderate, centre-right civic people's party. He was elected vice-chairman of the Liberal International at its 1992 congress in Mainz, Germany, then a member of its Executive Committee in January, 1993.
Following the victory at the polls in 1998, Viktor Orbán became the Prime Minister of the centre-right coalition of Hungary. The civic government carried out a number of projects for the improvement of the living standard of families, by granting tax-allowances, and boosted the economy by programmes supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, and a credit system was also established for university students. During his mandate the Mária-Valéria bridge connecting Hungary to the neighbouring Slovakia, which was bombed in World War II, was rebuilt from its ruins and the new National Theatre was also constructed. Owing to a successful economic policy, rising incomes along with a constantly low inflation rate, decreasing budget deficit and public debt, by the year 2002 Hungary was ready to join the Euro-zone in 4 years' time. In March, 1999, Hungary had become member of NATO.
In October, 2002, Mr Orbán was elected vice-chairman of the European People's Party, and the following year the chairman of Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Union.
The Alliance became the largest and most organized political force in Central-Europe, which won the European Parliament elections in 2009 with a huge majority, then went on to secure a two-third majority at the parliamentary elections in April 2010. The National Assembly elected him the Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary on 29 May 2010.
Viktor Orbán holds numerous international awards. In May, 2001, he received the Freedom Award of the American Enterprise Institute and the New Atlantic Initiative in Washington, D.C. As of August, 2001, Mr Orbán holds the Polak Award of the Maria Polak Foundation, and in November, 2001, he received the Franz-Josef Strauß award granted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Viktor Orbán was the first to be given the Saint Stephan prize in September, 2002, in the Hungarian city of Esztergom. The Foundation of Mérite Européen awarded him its golden medal in March, 2004. On 6 April he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Gregory by Julius Janus papal nuncius.
In 2006 he received an honorary citizenship from Esztergom, and in 2008 the mayor of Csíkszereda awarded him the Pro Urbe award.
Viktor Orbán is married to Anikó Lévai and has five children.
Since his childhood, Mr Orbán has been a keen sportsman; he is currently a signed player of FC Felcsút and a founder of the Ferenc Puskás Foundation for young football players, created in April, 2007."