Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban joined the debate in US politics, owing to his pro-Republican leanings, with a message of support for former President Donald Trump as he is set to be charged on Tuesday. Taking to Twitter to encourage the 45th United States President to “keep on fighting”, Orban’s intervention is highly unusual for a head of government from a European Union and NATO member.
Since 2016, Orban has been known as the first foreign leader to endorse Trump, having since strengthened his grip over major aspects of Hungarian society. His initiatives have been characterized as authoritarian, leading to Cold War-era bridges between the US and Hungary. Relations have been strained mainly due to Orban’s cozy relationship with China and Russia, including after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. In response, president Joe Biden’s administration excluded Hungary from its democracy summit last week, and scrapped a vital tax treaty that has been in place since 1979.
In spite of this, Orban and other Republican leaders have promised to reinstate the tax treaty, should the latter party win the White House in 2021. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reasserted the commitment in a statement to the state MTI news service.
Ultimately, Orban’s move to support President Trump serves to illustrate the countries’ complicated relationship both diplomatically and personally. This brings us to the important question of Hungary – who is Prime Minister Viktor Orban?
An active player in Hungarian politics since 1988, Viktor Orban is a Hungarian politician. Although he started his career with free-market and anti-Communist ideals, he later established, alongside Ferenc Gyurcsány and others, the right-winged party Fidesz in 1988. During the 1990’s, Orban was a major figure in Hungary’s transition to democracy, introducing market liberalisation. However, since 2010 his political orientation has shifted drastically to an illiberal, national conservative and populist one, passing several controversial laws, including the country’s infamous Press Freedom Laws.
Since 2010, Prime Minister Orban has also embarked on an economic overhaul of Hungary, focusing heavily on the development of right-winged tact and introducing hundreds of investment incentives for businesses. Orban has also called for cutting taxes for businesses, reducing the corporate income tax from 19% to 9% and cutting job taxes from the highest rate of 27% to 22%. Furthermore, the Hungarian Government has secured EU investments for developing infrastructure, cutting taxes for small and medium sized businesses and introducing tax credits for companies.
All this has, inevitably, put Orban’s Government at odds with the EU institutions and unified European politics, leading to claims of authoritarian and anti-EU leadership.