Tag Archives: U.S. presidential election

The great hope of the Hungarian right: Rex Tillerson as secretary of state

The revelations first disclosed by The Washington Post about possible Russian interference in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency were received in Hungarian far-right circles with mixed emotions. Naturally, they identify with the president-elect, who is being portrayed by their media as Superman and the savior of the world. At the same time they find the possibility of Trump’s gaining the presidency with foreign help embarrassing. They even dug up a former secret service official, József Horváth from the Kádár era, who has close ties to Fidesz politicians. He announced with great confidence that “it is unlikely that the Russians intervened for the sake of Donald Trump’s victory.” Horváth’s expertise dates to the 1970s and 1980s, so he knows next to nothing about cyberspace or hacking. Even his reasoning is ridiculous. In his opinion, the claim of interference cannot be true because “such a hacker attack must have immediate legal and diplomatic consequences.” In the United States espionage is taken very seriously, but nothing has happened since the discovery of the alleged cyber crime. This nonsense was taken at face value by Magyar Idők, the government’s semi-official mouthpiece.

It is, however, Magyar Hírlap, the newspaper in which ranting demagogues like Zsolt Bayer and István Lovas publish their opinion pieces, that leads the way in Trump hero worship. Readers of Hungarian Spectrum are only too familiar with Bayer, but they most likely know little about Lovas, whom a couple of years ago I described as “one of the most unsavory characters in the Hungarian right-wing media.” Between 1976 and 1990 he lived in Montreal, Los Angeles, and Munich, where he was on the staff of Radio Free Europe’s Hungarian section. After his return to Hungary, he began working for decidedly right-wing publications. Although he has Jewish ancestry, he is an anti-Semite who received the Palestinian State’s “Objectivity” prize in 2002.

What Lovas cannot understand is how the CIA, which in 40 days will be under the thumb of Trump, dared to put forth a lie without any evidence of Russian support of Trump’s candidacy. The story is nothing more than “a long tale from the neoliberal/left-liberal Washington Post which regularly belches out fake news.” Moreover, Trump doesn’t care about the useless American intelligence reports and is ready to go against the “ruling elite,” which hoped that Trump would choose Mitt Romney, “one of the passengers on the irrational Russophobe hysteria train.” Romney is described by Lovas as someone close to the American defense industry who, if appointed secretary of state, would work hand in hand with the neocons already in the State Department.

But, thank God, Trump was brave and is rumored to have picked Rex Tillerson, an oil magnate and president of Exxon-Mobil “who has a good relationship with Russian President Putin.” Other less enthusiastic commentators describe the relationship between the two men as one of dependency. That is, Tillerson depended on his friendship with Putin to get oil deals done in Russia. Tillerson is described by politico.hu as the head of one of those Western companies who “were bowing and scraping before a man who had just shocked the world by violating international law” with the invasion of Crimea and who subsequently lobbied Washington to lift economic sanctions against Russia.

Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin are on very friendly terms

In connection with the nomination of Tillerson, Lovas attacks John McCain, The Washington Post’s “beloved Republican” who “called Orbán a fascist dictator” and who in an interview on Fox News called Putin “an aggressive character and a murderer.” McCain is “the mainstay of the genocidal U.S. policy in the Middle East.” Lovas wouldn’t be true to himself if he didn’t drag Israel into the discussion of Tillerson’s nomination. He cites an opinion piece titled “Thumbing Nose at Alleged Kremlin Debt, Trump Picks Putin’s Pal as Secretary of State” which appeared in Haaretz, adding that Jerusalem is bound to be disappointed by the choice of Tillerson.

A likely pro-Russian foreign policy naturally delights Lovas, although he sadly notes that the neocon John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, might become Tillerson’s deputy. “On our side” is also James Mattis, who is not really keen on the Russian president, “but we, supporters of Trump, are ready for compromise and we are satisfied with the fact that our sworn enemies feel that they are lying bleeding on the battlefield.” The sworn enemies of Hungary are, of course, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the whole Democratic leadership. In his final sentence Lovas foresees the Democrats and Republicans like McCain one day standing before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Perhaps the most bizarre analysis of Donald Trump’s alleged decision to nominate Rex Tillerson comes from Viktor Attila Vincze, who writes for Magyar Idők and other right-wing publications. The article, whose title “Is Donald Trump ready to be America’s Gorbachev because of China?” took my breath away, appeared in 888.hu. What on earth is this man talking about? When I hear Gorbachev’s name, my first thought is the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which Vladimir Putin hasn’t been able to accept to this day. Let’s hope that Trump’s presidency wouldn’t have such grave consequences for the United States as Gorbachev’s term did for the Soviet Union. But no, Vincze views Gorbachev as the far-sighted politician who decided to end the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Trump could end the unipolar world order with a diplomatic opening toward Russia “and toward other states” and perhaps, just like Gorbachev, he could end the war in Afghanistan. I assume Vincze would include Hungary among the “other states.”

If Trump wants to confront China, he has to change U.S. diplomacy toward Russia. Tillerson’s nomination “is the first significant step in this direction.” Vincze quite openly talks about Tillerson’s frustration over the sanctions that prevented Exxon-Mobil’s $500 billion deal with the Russian state company Rosneft. Obviously, Vincze doesn’t see any conflict of interest between Tillerson’s business dealings and his future role as secretary of state. Vincze hopes that Tillerson’s presence may result not just in the normalization of the relationship between Russia and the United States but also in a close friendship between the two countries. In this new world, Russia and the United States would be partners. This would put an end to the far too cozy relationship between China and Russia.

As you can see, the Hungarian right is very keen on close cooperation between Russia and the United States, and its spokesmen are counting on Donald Trump. The first sign that their hopes may be realized is Tillerson’s rumored nomination. If, however, the Washington Post is not just belching out another piece of fake news, this nomination is in danger of being blocked on the Hill, which may prompt Trump to go a different direction. That would sorely disappoint the Hungarian far right.

December 12, 2016

Jobbik and the U.S. presidential election

The latest on Ghaith Pharaon

First, I think I should say a few words about the latest developments in the Ghaith Pharaon case. Heti Válasz, a conservative weekly, learned that in January 2014 Pharaon received not only a Hungarian visa but also a residency permit “for the purpose of business and investment activities.” It was the Jordanian honorary consul in Budapest—who by the way was Viktor Orbán’s host at that by now infamous dinner in Pharaon’s honor—who requested the visa, and it was the Hungarian consulate in Beirut that issued it. By the look of things, the Hungarian authorities ignored all the rules and regulations to make Pharaon’s life in Hungary trouble free. For a residency permit the applicant’s fingerprints must be taken but, when pressed, the ministry of interior admitted that Pharaon wasn’t even required to have an official photograph. For almost three years Pharaon had the right to travel to and from Hungary at will. He could also, if he chose, travel anywhere in the European Union. All national security precautions were dispensed with in this case. He most likely enjoyed the protection of Viktor Orbán himself.

Jobbik on the U.S. presidential elections

The government’s rejoicing over Donald Trump’s victory knows no bounds. The pro-government media is full of stories of the “liberal rabble” on the streets who have been aroused against the president-elect by people like George Soros. Relentless attacks on the Obama government and Hillary Clinton can be found daily in all the right-wing papers.

Interestingly enough, Jobbik’s reaction is a lot more tempered and, I must admit, more realistic. The government-financed 888.hu was outraged when it found that Ádám Mirkóczki, Jobbik’s spokesman, in response to a question from a reporter of HVG, called Trump “an unfit and poor candidate” who is “an unpredictable madman.” Otherwise, he said, the choice was difficult because neither candidate was inspiring.

A few days later, in an interview with Magyar Nemzet, Mirkóczki was more restrained in the sense that he didn’t repeat his one-liner about Trump’s state of mind, but he further elaborated on Jobbik’s position that the presidential choice this year was poor. The interviewer assumed that Jobbik “is as satisfied with the results of the American election” as Fidesz is, but he didn’t get the answer he was expecting. Mirkóczki said he feels for the American people, who had to choose between two poor candidates. He shares the government’s opinion that Clinton “would have been a disaster for Hungary” and in that sense between the two “catastrophic candidates, the less bad won.” Jobbik only “hopes that Trump’s policies will coalesce with Hungary’s interests.” But Mirkóczki was more than cautious on that score because “we don’t know anything about [Trump’s] political ideas.” If we can believe the Jobbik spokesman, the party hopes that Trump will mellow in time because “a radical leading the United States is not in Hungary’s interest.”

Ádám Mirkóczki, Jobbik spokesman

Ádám Mirkóczki, Jobbik spokesman

Jobbik doesn’t think that with Trump’s victory U.S.-Hungarian relations will be much better. Orbán will remind the American diplomats of his early support for Trump, but such messages are “irrelevant as far as economic, political, or military relations are concerned between two countries.” In plain English, as long the present government continues on the same path it has followed in the last six years, change of presidency or not, U.S.-Hungarian relations will not improve.

About a year ago Gábor Vona delivered a speech in which he talked about his party’s intention to develop direct relations with politicians in Washington. As far as I know, several Jobbik politicians visited Washington and other larger cities. Jobbik is no longer an outcast, so its politicians had the opportunity to meet with several ambassadors in Budapest, including U.S. Ambassador Colleen Bell. Mirkóczki thinks that Orbán’s diplomatic approach to the United States has been counterproductive. Jobbik would strive for consensus, a style void of the “arrogant, lecturing, and negative style” that Fidesz has chosen in its dealings with the United States.

Of course, it is difficult to tell how much of this is merely for show. Recently BBC’s Nick Thorpe wrote an article about the metamorphosis of Jobbik “from a radical nationalist party … to a moderate ‘conservative people’s party’” and said that Vona “now promises to restore the checks and balances lost under Orbán.” He quotes Vona, who nowadays tries to avoid political labeling, who said that “if [he] lived in Greece [he] would probably vote for Syriza, though they are supposed to be on the left.” He also adopted Bálint Magyar’s characterization of Orbán’s regime and called it “a mafia-type state.”

Given Jobbik’s past, it is probably wise to take much of this with a grain of salt. But Jobbik’s cautious attitude toward the impending Trump presidency is much more statesmanlike than the Orbán government’s uncritical admiration of Trump’s radicalism. In this respect at least, Jobbik sounds more like a conservative party; Fidesz, the radical one.

November 16, 2016

After the US election: Europe is anxiously waiting

Mother Jones published a funny article back in September about Trump’s hectic first day in office. On the basis of his election promises, the author compiled a to-do list of 21 items. Here are a few that would, directly or indirectly, have an impact on the European Union. He would call the heads of major companies who are moving operations overseas to inform them that they’ll face 35% tariffs. He would “contact countries and say … ‘Folks, we love protecting you, we want to continue to protect you but you’re not living up to the bargain’… They’re not paying what they’re supposed to be paying—which is very little, by the way.” He would immediately “withdraw from TPP.” He would also suspend the Syrian refugee resettlement program.

And this is just the first day. To come are many, even more important items, like his promised suspension of all ongoing free trade negotiations, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is described on the website of the European Commission as an “ambitious and balanced” agreement that would “boost Europe’s influence in the world.”

Then there’s Trump’s unbounded admiration of President Putin, the strong leader whom he compared favorably to our own weak President Obama. And there’s the matter of Russian involvement in the presidential race. Just today Russia’s deputy foreign minister said that during the campaign the Russian government had been in touch with members of Trump’s campaign staff. There is panic in Ukraine, with people writing tweets like “tell me I’m sleeping and this is a terrible nightmare!” Poland’s president already fired off a letter to Trump, urging him to keep Washington’s promise to deploy troops on NATO’s eastern flank.

Photo: Mark Murrmann, Richard Dew/AP, Ti Kirkpatrick/CNP/ZUMA

Photo: Mark Murrmann, Richard Dew/AP, Ti Kirkpatrick/CNP/ZUMA

There is apprehension across Europe, even as the customary congratulations are being sent to the American president-elect. I especially loved the message coming from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Prolin. In addition to “wishing the new president well,” he “pledge[d] to pray that God enlightens him and supports him in the service of his country … in the service of well-being and peace in the world.” It seems that the European Union’s leading politicians share Cardinal Prolin’s hope for Trump’s enlightenment.

The president of the European Union, Martin Schulz, was not optimistic. He said that he “must respect the future president of the United States [and] hopes that we will find a slot to cooperate.” He added that “it will be hard, harder than with previous administrations but he is the freely elected president.” Just a slot?

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, doesn’t want to engage in a guessing game about Trump’s future policies. “We would like to know how things will proceed with global trade policy. We would like to know what intentions [Trump] has regarding the [NATO] alliance. We must know what climate policies he intends to pursue. This must be cleared up in the next few months.”

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker wrote a joint congratulatory letter to Trump yesterday in which they felt it necessary to stress the strategic partnership between the European Union and the United States, which is “rooted in our shared values of freedom, human rights, democracy and a belief in the market economy.” The letter went on: “only by cooperating closely can the EU and the US continue to make a difference when dealing with unprecedented challenges such as Da’esh, the threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, climate change and migration.” At the end of the letter they extended an invitation for Trump “to visit Europe for an EU-US Summit at your earliest convenience.” This meeting would allow them “to chart the course of our relations for the next four years.”

There is widespread fear that under Trump’s guidance the United States will retreat to a modern version of “splendid isolation.” Even though with globalization this is well-nigh impossible, many of Trump’s promises to Americans have touched on this theme. Trump said that his “foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.” Susan Dunn, a political commentator, noted that it was most unfortunate that Trump chose to use “the noxious slogan, ‘America First,’ the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.” Trump’s reference to “America First” was not wasted on European leaders. Tusk immediately fired back: “I do not believe that any country today can be great in isolation. But I do believe that America and Europe can, should and will work together. It is in our common interest. We have to recognize that this will take major efforts from both sides.”

The fact is that we have no idea what the foreign policy of a Trump presidency will be. I doubt that he himself has a clue. On that funny to-do list published by Mother Jones the last item was “learn the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas.” In his victory speech Trumped vowed to “get along with all other nations willing to get along with us.” But, as Dalibor Rohac, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said, “getting along” is not a foreign policy. Moreover, such careless phrasing opens the possibility of getting along with powers like Russia and China, two countries that have in the last year struck a threatening pose against their neighbors.

Because of Trump’s far too friendly comments on Vladimir Putin and Russia many commentators believe that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are the most vulnerable to Russian influence and expansion if the United States does indeed retreat from its political, economic, and military participation in Europe. Trump’s national security adviser was once asked rhetorically, “Do we want NATO to go on for another half-century?” His answer was “I don’t know.” Given such careless and irresponsible utterances coming from Trump’s closest associates, it’s no wonder that there is such nervousness in Europe, whose security depends largely on the military power of the United States.

Viktor Orbán welcomes a more isolationist American foreign policy. And he continues waging his own version of an isolationist war against Brussels, arguing for country over Union. János Lázár only today announced that the Hungarian government will continue its battle with Brussels over the compulsory quotas even though the opposition refused to support its proposed amendments to the constitution. One is inclined to agree with Tamás Bauer, a keen observer of politics, that “Orbán wants more than Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. He doesn’t want to take his country out of the Union but he wants to destroy it.”

November 10, 2016

Hungarian reaction to Donald Trump’s victory

What else can one write about today except the totally unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election? Half of the United States might be in shock that the next president of the United States will be someone of questionable character and temperament who has absolutely no governing experience, but that will not change the fact that in less than three months Donald Trump will be moving into the White House.

Naturally Hungarian papers led with the story of Trump’s “revolution,” as a Hungarian commentator called his landslide victory in the electoral college, especially since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was one of the very few international politicians looking forward to a Trump presidency.

Before I get to Hungarian reactions to Trump’s victory, let me go back a week, to a poll conducted by the Závecz Research Institute released on October 2, according to which only 10% of Hungarians were rooting for a Trump victory. Reflecting their unfamiliarity with American politics, about a third of the respondents had no opinion. In Hungary there was no disparity between female and male voters in their attitudes toward the candidates. Because of Viktor Orbán’s announcement of his preference for Trump, among his followers support for Trump was the highest, at 23%, but 47% of Fidesz supporters still preferred Clinton. Among Jobbik voters it was even higher, 54%. The most enthusiastic Clinton fans could be found among DK voters, at 93%. Once these poll results were released, Index published this funny picture. So, you can imagine the shock today.

Well, it didn't quite work out

Well, it didn’t quite work out this way

After the announcement of Trump’s victory, politicians all over the world began sending him congratulations. Viktor Orbán was perhaps the first European politician to congratulate Trump on his Facebook page. Whoever wrote the brief English congratulatory note got a bit confused about the grammatical rules of the English language, but what came afterward was really funny. Hungarian trolls passed themselves off as American nationals who in broken English sang the praises of the two great leaders and protectors of the world, Orbán and Trump. Magyar Idők fell for the ruse before the administrator of Orbán’s Facebook page removed the comments.

Later in the day Orbán had an opportunity to elaborate on his assessment of Trump’s victory, which he attributed to the fact that “democracy is still alive.” A few hours later, this time already in London on a brief visit to Prime Minister Theresa May, he told journalists that it was always beneficial to the world when it could free itself from the prison of prevailing ideological trends and could return to reality. Naturally, he was talking about liberalism and its value system.

The other Fidesz politician who commented on the presidential election and its possible consequences for Hungary was Zsolt Németh, Fidesz chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and the vice president of the Hungarian Atlantic Council. He is a man who supposedly would like to restore good relations with the United States. In an interview he gave to 888.hu, he told the reporter that with the victory of Trump he “expects a much more active U.S. policy relating to the security of the world.” He blamed the U.S. State Department for the lack of dialogue between the two countries. He also expressed his hope that in a Trump administration “the United States will give up its export of democracy and its interventionist policies. He reassured the readers of 888.hu that it was foolish to worry about the future of NATO under Trump. I have no idea on what basis Németh arrived at these pronouncements. So far Trump has shown scant interest in international security issues.

Index said that the democratic opposition’s leading lights were “benumbed,” that they still hadn’t recovered from their shock. Gyula Molnár of MSZP simply wrote: “The American people decided. They elected Trump as their future president. This decision must be respected.” LMP’s message was equally terse: “LMP respects the decision of the American people and congratulates Donald Trump on his electoral success.”

Ferenc Gyurcsány was much more expansive and friendly. “Congratulations to Donald Trump, the new president of the United States. He was the one who captured the imagination of the majority of Americans. There’s no reason to panic. The United States is still a country of freedom and democracy, and it is in the interest of the world that it remains so. I don’t think that the troubled relations between Obama and Orbán substantially weakened the Hungarian government or strengthened its opposition. And the opposite state of affairs will not happen under Trump. Orbán must be beaten at home. We can’t expect assistance from Washington. What we can learn from the U.S. elections is that one can overcome the lack of media and funding. Moreover, pollsters are not infallible. From tomorrow on, we will focus on the tasks ahead and the replacement of the Orbán government.”

Pro-Fidesz papers also weighed in on the U.S. election. According to one of 888.hu’s young journalists, László Bertha, “the victory of Trump may be the beginning of the end, not of democracy, but of the monopoly of liberal opinion.” On the pro-Fidesz but extreme right-wing site Demokrata, László Szentesi-Zöldi began: “Let’s take a deep breath and declare that Viktor Orbán is not lucky but is a genius who can look into the future. Regardless of what kind of president Trump will be, it is already engraved for posterity that only three heads of government in the whole world supported Trump in advance of the election. One of them was Viktor Orbán. This fact will have incalculably beneficial consequences for Hungarian-American relations.” Szentesi-Zöldi hopes that Trump will put an end to Obama’s “cold war” and will move closer to Russia. The prospects in Hungary are bright. “Bell will soon be packing and the new boss will dispense with the services of György Bolgár and his [liberal] ilk.”

Perhaps the most surprising editorial was written by Zsolt Jeszenszky, son of Géza Jeszenszky, foreign minister between 1990 and 1994 who also served as Hungarian ambassador in Washington during the first Orbán administration. As far as I can ascertain, Zsolt Jeszenszky engages in political analysis as a hobby. Otherwise, he is the music director of Lánchíd Rádió, part of Lajos Simicska’s formerly influential, pro-government media holdings. His article titled “America, I Love You!” appeared on the conservative news site mandiner.hu. He explains the reasons for Trump’s spectacular performance this way. “Many people had had enough of constantly being called stupid and racist and being lectured at because the liberal elite wants to prescribe what to think, believing liberalism to be the depository of unquestionable truth.” This stigmatized group went out and voted. Not because they are homophobes, racists, or xenophobic. But because the elite “tries to force its own opinions, affairs, slogans, and goals on ordinary people who are not interested in world peace, the blessings of multiculturalism, gay rights, or female and other kinds of quotas.”

The pro-government commentators found their man in Trump, who in many ways resembles their own idol, a man who tells it as it is. I’m not surprised at their genuine admiration of the man. What especially appeals to them is that he won against all odds. “If for nothing else, for this reason he deserves our trust.” I for one find the connection between trust and the difficulty of the road to victory more than tenuous.

November 9, 2016

Meeting of great minds: Orbán welcomes Trump as savior of Europe

Hungarian commentators found Viktor Orbán’s endorsement of Donald Trump baffling. One of them, Szabolcs Panyi of Index, suggested that Viktor Orbán simply misspoke during his speech at Tusnádfűrdő/Băile Tușnad on July 23.

No one could have been so foolish, Panyi argued, as to endorse a presidential candidate who had just announced that he as president would disregard NATO’s Article 5, which is the cornerstone of the North Atlantic Alliance. Article 5 provides that an armed attack against one or more of the members of the alliance in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. As far as Trump is concerned, those countries who don’t pull their weight in the alliance will be left in the lurch, among them Hungary with its measly defense budget of 0.7% (instead of at least 2%) of the GDP.

Then there is the story of likely Russian involvement in the release of damaging documents from the National Democratic Committee via WikiLeaks just a day before the opening of the Democratic Convention. It is a well-known fact that Trump is a great admirer of Vladimir Putin, whom he considers a strong leader who is “rebuilding Russia” and who “does his work well.” At one point Trump went as far as to say that, even if Putin hired people to kill his critics and opponents, “at least he’s a leader,” not like George W. Bush. Trump’s admiration of Putin has been amply returned. On several occasions the Russian president expressed his approval of Trump, and the Russian propaganda machinery is full of praise for Trump’s foreign policy ideas. His stance on NATO was especially well received.

The western media is full of stories that the Russians, by illegal means, are trying to tip the scale in Trump’s favor in the election campaign. (And, of course, today Trump egged the Russians on.) So, the endorsement of Trump by Viktor Orbán, who has been accused of being the Trojan horse of Russian designs on the European Union, is most unfortunate indeed.

For all of the above reasons Szabolcs Panyi believed that what Orbán said was not what he meant. Panyi came to that conclusion after seeing the video of the speech, where he discovered that Orbán had no written text in front of him and was trying to find an item among his notes. Panyi figured that the prime minister, in addition to talking about Trump’s ideas on terrorism, national security, and immigration, wanted to say more, but he couldn’t find his notes. Thus, his thoughts on Trump were truncated and misunderstood.

Viktor Orbán didn’t leave Panyi in doubt for long. Yesterday during the joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern he made himself crystal clear. Yes, he is supporting Trump wholeheartedly because he convinced that his election is in the interest of Hungary.

Reuters / Photo: László Balogh

Reuters / Photo: László Balogh

Orbán’s endorsement of Trump created quite a stir in the international media, and his comments yesterday were quoted in major newspapers worldwide. In the translation of Reuters, “the Democrats’ foreign policy is bad for Europe, and deadly for Hungary.” On the other hand, “the migration and foreign policy advocated by the Republican candidate, Mr. Trump, is good for Europe and vital for Hungary.” Actually, the original Hungarian, as recorded by Népszabadság, is even stronger: Republican foreign policy is good for Europe “and it means life for Hungary” while the Democrats’ foreign policy ideas “mean death for Hungary.” As far as Orbán is concerned, for Hungary “migration is not a solution but a problem … not medicine but a poison.”

Rumor has it that, over and above policy differences, Orbán holds a grudge against Hillary Clinton for her open criticism of his politics in the summer of 2011 during her visit to Budapest, which was followed by a letter written in December of the same year. As we know by now, Orbán neither forgets nor forgives. In fact, he is vengeful. It is enough to think of the fate of Gábor Iványi, head of the Methodist Brotherhood, or, for that matter, Ferenc Gyurcsány, whom he managed to discredit just because he lost a debate to him. Of course, in the case of the future president of the United States, Orbán is no position to play God, but he can embrace Donald Trump and verbally attack the despised Hillary Clinton.

Bill Clinton is not exactly a favorite either because the former president made a few nasty remarks about politicians who, like the Hungarian prime minister, “said he liked authoritarian capitalism, just saying ‘I don’t ever want to have to leave power’ – usually those guys want to stay forever and make money.” In addition, there is Orbán’s bogeyman, George Soros, who has a good relationship with the Clintons and just gave 25 million dollars to the Clinton campaign. All in all, there is every reason for Viktor Orbán to dislike Hillary Clinton.

There’s no question that Trump and Orbán have a lot in common. For instance, the same kind of crazy talk when it comes to protecting their countries against unwanted migrants. Yesterday, for example, Orbán announced that “Hungary does not need a single migrant” despite the country’s incredible labor shortage, while Trump talks about closing the door of the United States to all Muslims and, of course, building a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border.

The consensus in Fidesz circles is that U.S.-Hungarian relations are already so bad that Orbán doesn’t risk much by endorsing Donald Trump. If Trump loses and Clinton wins, nothing will change. On the other hand, if Trump is the winner, he might remember kindly the only sitting European prime minister who openly and proudly endorsed a man who many of his colleagues deem unfit for and unworthy of the post of president of the United States.

July 27, 2016