Failed Authoritarian Endorses Aspiring Authoritarian

·2 min read
donald-trump-viktor-orban-2019 - Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
donald-trump-viktor-orban-2019 - Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Donald Trump has handed out a slew of political endorsements ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. He delivered another big one on Monday, officially lending his support to … Hungarian Prime Minister and ascendant autocrat Viktor Orban.

“Viktor Orban of Hungary truly loves his Country and wants safety for his people,” the former president wrote. “He has done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming election. He is a strong leader and is respected by all. He has my Complete support and Endorsement for reelection as Prime Minister!”

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It’s pretty strange for a former president to go out of his way to endorse the incumbent Hungarian prime minister, especially Orban, a far-right authoritarian who has openly bashed democracy. The New York Times noted on Sunday that Orban is so illiberal that it’s become something of a crisis within the European Union, and that the European Court of Justice is currently mulling whether to allow the union to restrict Hungary’s funding as the Hungarian prime minister works to undercut freedom of the press, the rule of law, and human rights.

Trump has long been a fan, though. He invited Orban at the White House in 2019, a move that drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle (this was back when Republicans felt they could selectively criticize Trump). The meeting went on as planned, though, with a U.S.-based Hungarian lobbyist describing it to Rolling Stone as a “grand slam” for the autocrat. “You’re respected all over Europe,” Trump told Orban during the sit-down. “Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that’s okay. You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe.”

Trump’s endorsement of Orban is no surprise, then, nor is his continued admiration for some of the world’s most brutal anti-democratic strongmen as he tries to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as recently as last month while speaking at an event in Florida. “The ones I did best with were the tyrants,” Trump said of his relationship with the authoritarian world leaders. “For whatever reason, I got along great with them.”

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