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Trump Orban

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the White House Oval Office in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2019. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

'Threat to Our Democracy Could Not Be Clearer,' Says Sanders After Trump Endorses Far-Right Orbán

"Trump wants to do here what Orbán has done in Hungary: weaken democratic institutions, curb press freedom, and rewrite election laws to entrench his own party's power."

Brett Wilkins

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders rebuked former President Donald Trump Monday after the frequent admirer of dictators endorsed the reelection of Hungarian President Viktor Orbán, under whose administration Hungary's generation-old democracy has been severely eroded.

"Trump wants to do here what Orbán has done in Hungary: weaken democratic institutions, curb press freedom, and rewrite election laws to entrench his own party's power," Sanders (I-Vt.)  tweeted. "The threat to our democracy could not be clearer, and we must act boldly to protect it."

According to Amnesty International, under Orbán, "the government continued to undermine judicial independence and public confidence in the judiciary," while "women and transgender people were discriminated against in law and in practice" and "asylum-seekers were refused safe entry at borders and were expelled."

Furthermore, Amnesty said that "changes to laws to contain Covid-19 restricted freedom of expression and peaceful assembly."

The New York Times reports:

Mr. Orbán and his party have steadily consolidated power in Hungary by weakening the country's independent and democratic institutions—rewriting election laws to favor his Fidesz party, changing school textbooks, curbing press freedoms, overhauling the constitution, and changing the composition of the judiciary.

The actions have caused consternation in the European Union, to which Hungary belongs, but also made Mr. Orbán something of a cause célèbre in conservative American political circles... Last fall, Tucker Carlson, the top-rated Fox News host, broadcast from Budapest for a week, calling the nation a place 'with a lot of lessons for the rest of us.' Former Vice President Mike Pence visited Hungary last year for a conference on conservative values. And the American Conservative Union has been promoting plans for a gathering there, dubbed #CPACHungary, later this year.

The Hungarian leader endeared himself to Trump by endorsing him relatively early in the 2016 U.S. presidential contest. Trump returned the favor by hosting Orbán at the White House in 2019.

Orbán is just the second foreign leader endorsed by Trump since he left the White House; the other is Brazil's right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro. That endorsement came just hours after the Brazilian Senate recommended criminal charges against Bolsonaro for his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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