Former President Donald J. Trump approved Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday and formally pledged his “full support” to a far-right foreign leader who has touted turning Hungary into an “illiberal democracy.”
Orban and his party have steadily consolidated power in Hungary by weakening the country’s independent and democratic institutions — rewriting election laws in favor of his Fidesz party, changing school textbooks, curtailing press freedom, revising the country’s constitution and changing the composition of the judiciary.
The actions caused consternation in the European Union, which includes Hungary, but also made Mr Orban a cause célèbre in conservative American political circles, after years of aggressive influence in the United States.
Last fall, Tucker Carlson, the top-rated Fox News host, broadcast from Budapest for a week, calling the nation a place “with many lessons for the rest of us.” Former Vice President Mike Pence visited Hungary last year for a conference on conservative values. And the US Conservative Union is promoting plans for a meeting there called #CPACHungary later this year.
Mr. Orban was an early supporter of Mr. Trump and backed him in the summer of 2016. After winning, Mr. Trump granted Mr. Orban a meeting in the Oval Office in 2019. The Hungarian leader had refused any such audience ever since. . 1998.
After that meeting, Mr. Trump said Mr. Orban was “probably, like me, a little controversial, but that’s okay.”
Mr Orban again publicly supported Mr Trump in 2020. Now Mr Trump is doing the same in the run-up to the Hungarian elections, which are scheduled for this spring.
In his endorsement on Monday, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Orban as a “strong leader” who “has done a powerful and amazing job protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs and trade, and should do so.” can continue to do in the coming elections.”
It is Trump’s second endorsement of a foreign leader since he left the White House. He supported Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro last year.