"Why Trump’s meeting Hungary’s Orban is a ‘bit controversial’" PBS NewsHour 5/13/2019
SUMMARY: President Trump welcomed controversial Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to the White House Monday, breaking with recent presidents who shunned the right-wing nationalist. Like Trump, Orban has made restricting immigration a cornerstone of his agenda. William Brangham talks to Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations and Georgetown University about the significance of the alliance.
William Brangham (NewsHour): For people who have not been following Viktor Orban's career or really appreciate where he sits in the orbit of European politics, tell us a little bit more about him.
Charles Kupchan, Georgetown University: Well, as your piece said, he starts off as a disheveled liberal post-communist progressive.
He has one bite at the apple as prime minister from '98 to 2002. And then he comes back in 2010. And he's been there ever since. And he essentially tracks from the left to the right to the further right over the course of his political career, and, in many respects, is a person that's ahead of his time, in the sense that he became anti-immigrant, anti-Europe, close down the borders, take over the media, compromise the independence of the judiciary, well before it became mainstream.
You now see it happening in Poland, in Italy. The far right is gaining ground in Germany. It's a widespread phenomenon. He was in many respects the person who blazed that path.
William Brangham: Former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon once referred to Viktor Orban as Trump before for Trump. Is that an accurate characterization of him?
Charles Kupchan: There's no question that there is an ideological affinity between Trump and Orban.
There is, I think, an effort to create what you might call an illiberal alliance, in which Trump sides with Orban, Salvini the head of the League in Italy, Kaczynski the head of what's called Law and Justice Party in Poland, Alternatives for Germany in Germany, the National Rally in France.
They're trying to create a political movement that pushes democratic politics to the right and in the anti-immigrant direction. I don't think it's any accident that this meeting today occurred less than two weeks before votes for the European Parliament.
It's a bellwether election. No question that the far right, the anti-E.U., the anti-immigrant forces will gain ground. The question is, how much ground will they gain? How much influence will they wield in the new [EU] Parliament?