EU elections 2019: Trump’s share in the support of populism

Visit by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, and Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC, to the United States of America
Date: 25/07/2018. Location: Washington – White House. © European Union , 2018 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service Photo: Etienne Ansotte

It was last Monday when the US President Donald Trump met the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the White House. Both leaders had the beautiful chance to praise each other at a gathering which lasted less than an hour.

Only a few days ahead of the EU elections, the US President clearly shows his preference to the far-right parties and policies of Europe. Besides, Mr Orbán was the only EU leader to openly support Trump’s 2016 presidential election.

However, there are several parts of the Hungarian foreign policy which US opposes despite the fact that they both share similar views on immigration policies.

Just words of admiration

The too short in duration meeting that Trump had with Orban only revealed that this whole thing could not have been very constructive. Both focused mostly on showing their respect and esteem to each other’s work and nothing more. More specifically, Donald Trump said during their common press conference: “Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways.  Highly respected.  Respected all over Europe.  Probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s okay.  That’s okay.  You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe. … And you have been great with respect to Christian communities.  You have really put a block up, and we appreciate that very much.”

What is more, Viktor Orbán responded to the appreciating words of the US president: “And I would like to express that we are proud to stand together with the United States on fighting against illegal migration, on terrorism, and to protect and help the Christian communities all around the world.”

Orbán in sought of US support

Orbán took the opportunity, due to the common understanding with Trump on building a wall against immigration among other issues, to be welcomed again at the White House after 21 years. The Hungarian PM has most likely got what he wanted from this meeting. His popularity is rising ahead of the European elections at a moment when far-right parties and populists are polling great throughout many EU countries.

The timing of the conference was also timely planned. Ten days before the upcoming EU elections, Donald Trump decided to see the leader of the national-conservative Fidesz party, which has been dumped by Europe’s mainstream conservative angle (EPP), in order to express his appreciation for his governmental work. Is the US President supporting the Hungarian leader urging overall towards a more far-right approach in the EU?

The White House has denied it of course and mentioned that the US just wanted to enhance its strategic position in Central Europe. In detail, a senior Trump administration official told Yahoo News that: “President Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Orbán is about affirming our alliance and defending the freedom and prosperity we enjoy as democracies. This visit is part of our overall strategy to reengage in Central Europe”.

US oppositions

It needs to be mentioned though that the US administration is against the Hungarian tight relations with Russia and China. This EU country is highly influenced by Russia which is its main gas supplier and has a nuclear power station in Hungary which produces more than a third of Hungary’s electricity production. Hence, it is quite obvious that the US government is attempting to approach Orbán to reduce Russia’s effect on Hungary. However, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to do so in February when he visited Viktor Orbán in Hungary. But the meeting of the Hungarian PM and US President two days ago didn’t seem to target intensively towards such a direction though as its duration was very short.

Eurosceptics’ and populists’ rise

EU elections are only  taking place next week and nationalism has spread around its seeds at the Old Continent. Currently, UK, France, Hungary, Austria, Italy and many more countries are showing major signs of far-right sentiments causing turbulences to the EU edifice. In detail, Nigel Farage’s Brexit party will gain 34% against 21% of the Labour and 11% of the Tories according to the Opinium survey for the Observer. In France, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party will gain 22,5% of the vote overtaking Emmanuel Macron’s party according to a Harris Interactive poll which was released on Sunday.

All in all, Donald Trump seems to express support to Viktor Orbán and by that to right-wing parties in Europe where populism is escalating. The situation has reached critical levels only 8 days before the EU elections. Orbanism and xenophophic right wing vultures are about to play crucial role in the outcome of the elections, sadly.

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