News News from America Polit­i­cal Soul­mates: Why Orbán Sup­ports Trump’s Reelection

Polit­i­cal Soul­mates: Why Orbán Sup­ports Trump’s Reelection

Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orbán has already made it clear that he sup­ports Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in the Novem­ber elec­tions, unlike many oth­er Euro­pean lead­ers. He wants to avoid return­ing to the age of Democ­rats’ “moral impe­ri­al­ism,” wish­ing to con­tin­ue his “extreme­ly good rela­tion­ship” with the Pres­i­dent with whom he appears to have so much in com­mon. Sum­ma­ry and analysis.

Diplo­mat­ic dis­putes with Democrats

In an essay a cou­ple of weeks ago, Orbán wrote:

[The Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment roots] for Don­ald Trump’s vic­to­ry, because we are well-acquaint­ed with Amer­i­can Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments’ for­eign pol­i­cy built on moral impe­ri­al­ism. We have sam­pled it before, even if invol­un­tar­i­ly. We did not like it, we do not want seconds.”

Orbán’s rela­tion­ship with the Democ­rats was, and still is, rather strained indeed. The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion avoid­ed bi-lat­er­al con­tact with the Orbán-led Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment for years as ret­ri­bu­tion for what they saw as efforts to estab­lish author­i­tar­i­an rule. Amer­i­can dis­ap­proval was expressed over the adop­tion of the new con­sti­tu­tion in 2011 in no uncer­tain terms, and Oba­ma him­self lat­er crit­i­cized the Prime Minister’s crack­down on civ­il soci­ety. High-rank­ing offi­cials of the Amer­i­can embassy were also con­stant fix­tures of demon­stra­tions orga­nized by the opposition.

The sit­u­a­tion does not appear to have changed. Just last week, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and For­eign Min­is­ter Péter Szíjjártó exchanged fair­ly antag­o­nis­tic mes­sages with one anoth­er. On Thurs­day, Biden expressed his dis­ap­proval of what he believes is the rise of total­i­tar­i­an­ism in Hun­gary at his town hall meet­ing in Philadel­phia, broad­cast across the US on ABC. Szíjjártó respond­ed on his Face­book, writ­ing that Biden’s words had noth­ing to do with real­i­ty. He lat­er uploaded a video mes­sage say­ing that Biden should first shed light on issues sur­round­ing his and his son Hunter’s involve­ment in poten­tial cor­rup­tion with Ukrain­ian ener­gy com­pa­ny Buris­ma before crit­i­ciz­ing Hun­gary. The For­eign Min­is­ter was refer­ring to a pop­u­lar con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry already refut­ed by two Repub­li­can-led Sen­ate com­mit­tees but ped­dled con­tin­u­al­ly by Don­ald Trump himself.Related arti­cleCorn­stein: Big Dif­fer­ence between Oba­ma and Trump Admin­is­tra­tions in Treat­ment of HungaryCornstein: Big Difference between Obama and Trump Administrations in Treatment of Hungary

David B. Corn­stein, the US Ambas­sador to Hun­gary, is con­clud­ing his ser­vice in the coun­try effec­tive Novem­ber 1st. The out­go­ing Amer­i­can ambas­sador talked to left­ist dai­ly Nép­sza­va in an inter­view about Amer­i­can-Hun­gar­i­an rela­tions, his plans, his activ­i­ties in Hun­gary, illib­er­al­ism, and also about how real­is­tic it is for Trump to vis­it the coun­try and when […]Con­tin­ue reading

Repub­li­can rapport

All this is in stark con­trast to the “excep­tion­al­ly good rela­tion­ship” that has devel­oped between Orbán and Trump, to use the Prime Minister’s own words. A recent anec­dote serves to illus­trate this quite well. Accord­ing to David Corn­stein, Ambas­sador to Hun­gary about to leave his post, when he went to vis­it Trump in the Oval Office to hand in his res­ig­na­tion, the Pres­i­dent spon­ta­neous­ly decid­ed they should “call Vik­tor.” To hear the Prime Min­is­ter tell it, he was heat­ing up his wife’s “Euro­pean Cham­pi­on Rata­touille” in the kitchen when the call came in the evening. They appar­ent­ly pro­ceed­ed to dis­cuss the Amer­i­can elec­tions, pol­i­tics in gen­er­al, and the pan­dem­ic. Trump assured Orbán that while the elec­tions were going to be close, he was going to win, and that Hun­gary could count on America’s help when and if a vac­cine is developed.

Although a friend­ly frat chat with­out pri­or agree­ment seems a lit­tle far-fetched between two world lead­ers, one can­not deny it has been love at first sight between Trump and Orbán. Break­ing with Obama’s atti­tude towards Hun­gary ear­ly in his pres­i­den­cy, last year Trump even invit­ed Orbán for a meet­ing at the White House, which passed in unusu­al­ly good spir­its. Corn­stein, present at the event, quot­ed the Pres­i­dent telling the Prime Minister:

It’s like we’re twins.”

Ear­li­er, the Ambas­sador had told the Atlantic that “[…] know­ing the pres­i­dent for a good 25 or 30 years, […] he would love to have the sit­u­a­tion that Vik­tor Orbán has, but he doesn’t.” This indeed appears to be the case.Related arti­cleTrump to Orbán: ‘It Felt like We Were Twins’Trump to Orbán: 'It Felt like We Were Twins'

At the end of Monday’s meet­ing with Vik­tor Orbán, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the Hun­gar­i­an prime min­is­ter and he “were like twins”, the US ambas­sador to Budapest said in an inter­view to lib­er­al news por­tal 444. Not every­one agrees with us, not every­one loves us, but let’s look at our results,” Corn­stein quot­ed Trump […]Con­tin­ue reading

Birds of a feather?

It is not hard to imag­ine why Trump might look at Orbán’s Hun­gary as a mod­el to emu­late. Thanks to his influ­ence over all branch­es of gov­ern­ment, Orbán has lit­tle fear of impeach­ment pro­ceed­ings, finan­cial inves­ti­ga­tions, or indeed any of the tri­als and tribu­la­tions Trump has been put through by the demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions of the Unit­ed States. He has gained con­trol over a sig­nif­i­cant part of the media, so dis­sent­ing voic­es reach the ears of few­er peo­ple. No “fake news,” no inves­tiga­tive report­ing, no cred­i­ble whistle­blow­ers, no has­sle. Giv­en his last four years, no doubt Trump would like to be in a sim­i­lar position.

The lead­ers are of a like mind on oth­er issues as well. They ped­dle anti-immi­gra­tion and anti-Mus­lim rhetoric. They appeal to nation­al pride and focus on nation­al sov­er­eign­ty and per­ceived threats to it. They also empha­size the impor­tance of Chris­t­ian val­ues pub­licly and pur­port to sup­port families.Related arti­cleOrbán-Trump Phone Talks on Ille­gal Migra­tion, Bor­der ProtectionOrbán-Trump Phone Talks on Illegal Migration, Border Protection

Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orbán on Mon­day had talks with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump by phone, the PM’s press chief told MTI. Orbán and Trump dis­cussed for­eign pol­i­cy issues such as the impor­tance of com­bat­ting ille­gal migra­tion and bor­der pro­tec­tion, Berta­lan Havasi said. Trump to Orbán: ‘It Felt like We Were Twins’ The two lead­ers also […]Con­tin­ue reading

They both want to appear as men of the peo­ple despite their sta­tus and pow­er. While the rit­u­al eat­ing of fes­ti­val food has become a sta­ple of pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns in the US, Trump dis­plays par­tic­u­lar fer­vor in devour­ing artery-clog­ging burg­ers left and right, and rev­els in pre­tend­ing to be a truck­er or a coal min­er for half a minute once in a while. We need look no fur­ther than Orbán’s account of the phone call he received from Trump, heat­ing up a hearty tra­di­tion­al meal pre­pared by his wife in the kitchen as he picks up the phone, to under­stand the mes­sage loud and clear. The Prime Min­is­ter also prides him­self on being a vil­lage boy, look­ing for­ward to tra­di­tion­al pig slaugh­ters each win­ter. He also rein­stat­ed people’s right to home-dis­till pálin­ka, the nation­al eau de vie, and will soon intro­duce a tax exemp­tion for it.

The hench­men

Giv­en their polit­i­cal records, it is hard­ly sur­pris­ing that not only do they seem to share some of their ide­ol­o­gy, but also some of the men who helped for­mu­late them.

Cer­tain­ly from 2008 on, but maybe even before then, Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ing par­ty Fidesz was work­ing with right-wing polit­i­cal con­sul­tant Arthur J. Finkel­stein until his death in 2017. Finkel­stein was a long time asso­ciate of the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion, which was one of his company’s few non-polit­i­cal clients, and was in reg­u­lar con­tact with the Trump cam­paign in 2016. He can also be con­sid­ered one of its ide­o­log­i­cal fathers, giv­en that sev­er­al of the cam­paign advis­ers, includ­ing Roger Stone, had been men­tored by Finkel­stein. He was one of the archi­tects of mod­ern pop­ulism, and con­sult­ed for Nixon, Rea­gan, and Netanyahu, among others.Related arti­cleFrom Attacks on Press Free­dom to Uncom­fort­able Sex “Jokes” — Milo Yiannopou­los’ Bizarre Night in BudapestFrom Attacks on Press Freedom to Uncomfortable Sex

“The dev­il is real. And he lies, his name is Soros Györ­gy” – with this provoca­tive open­ing, alt-right Milo Yiannopou­los didn’t need to strug­gle for the atten­tion of his Hun­gar­i­an audi­ence. The Budapest crowd cheered the self-pro­claimed “troll”, even if, at least to me, his com­ment seemed to have an iron­ic tone. In any case, […]Con­tin­ue reading

Anoth­er fig­ure with close con­nec­tions to both Trump and Orbán is Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka. He served as a main advi­sor to Orbán dur­ing his first term in 1998, although has since crit­i­cized Orbán on mul­ti­ple occa­sions. He became Deputy Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent and White House Strate­gist in 2017, a posi­tion from which he was fired lat­er that year.

Final­ly, after help­ing Trump’s cam­paign to vic­to­ry as a chief advi­sor, and a brief and tur­bu­lent spell as white house chief strate­gist, Steve Ban­non was report­ed­ly going to work with Vik­tor Orbán before the 2018 EP elec­tions. He even came to Hun­gary sev­er­al times to meet the Prime Min­is­ter and some of his allies. There is no indi­ca­tion that a part­ner­ship mate­ri­al­ized, but Ban­non has since called Orbán the most impor­tant politi­cian in Europe along with Salvini.

The future

Orbán told Reuters at the end of Sep­tem­ber that if Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Joe Biden wins the U.S. elec­tion, “Prob­a­bly the lev­el of open­ness and kind­ness and help­ing each oth­er will be low­er […]. But my cal­cu­la­tion is OK. [Trump] will win.” Before Trump’s ill­ness, Orbán trust­ed that he will win the elec­tion, saying:

The only rea­son why I’m sit­ting here after spend­ing more than 30 years in pol­i­tics is that I always believe in my plan A.”

Whether friend­ly rela­tions between Hun­gary and the US seen dur­ing the Trump pres­i­den­cy con­tin­ue ulti­mate­ly depends on the out­come of the elec­tions, some­thing on a long list of things Amer­i­can vot­ers will decide in November.

Fea­tured pho­to illus­tra­tion by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Source: hun​gary​to​day​.hu