As America reevaluates its alliances, Hungarian political shifts may hold lessons

The presidential election of 2016 continues to occupy discussions not only in the United States, but worldwide. America’s rightward shift under president-elect Donald Trump means international relations may be reorganized. Trump is already well-known to be a fan of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Just a few days ago, Trump invited another Putin-like leader to visit him in the United States: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.  

Although America is not a parliamentary country like Hungary, our current president-elect Donald Trump and his authoritarian ideas for the country’s future are very similar in ways to Hungary’s current views under the leadership of Orban.

In 2015, as hundred of thousands Syrians left their war-torn country, Orban built a wall  and heavily guarded the surrounding borders of Croatia and Serbia in Hungary. Orban’s anti-immigrant laws have hurt many harmless immigrant families trying to pass through Hungary on their way to settle in Germany. Orban also speaks negatively about ethnic minority Roma people in Hungary (more commonly known as gypsies).

President-elect Trump also had the idea of building a wall on the border of Mexico to keep out Latin American immigrants, and also a promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

According to a study in 2016 by political scientist Matthew Macwilliams of (university) the main reason why Trump supporters voted for him was simply because of the way he was going to rule America if he was elected. Trump promised change and quick action — such as building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, banning Muslims or putting Hillary Clinton in jail — regardless of whether it was actually possible or legal.  Authoritarian leaders are usually elected because of political fear, and many authoritarian leaders in history have also been classified as dictators.

In Hungary, Orban has moved closer to being a dictator in the past few years, gaining control of the parliament and the judicial branch of government to rewrite the constitution to further solidify his power and weaken opposition parties.

With the leadership similarities of Orban and Trump, it may raise the question of how our country could turn out if the approach of authoritarianism continues.

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