Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he is “prepared” for outside “interference” including from the United States in an election next year that could see the nationalist premier’s removal.
“That will happen, we are not worried about it, we are prepared for it,” Orban said in an interview broadcast early Friday with US television host Tucker Carlson, who had asked him if he was “worried that there will be international interference” in the election.
“Obviously the international left will do everything that they can do, probably even more, to change the government here in Hungary.”
The vote expected in April 2022 is shaping up to be a tight race with opinion polls showing Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party neck-and-neck with a coalition of opposition parties from left to right.
In power since 2010, Orban has moulded Hungary into what he calls an “illiberal” stronghold, but has faced repeated accusations of democratic backsliding from Brussels and Washington.
During his election campaign last year, US President Joe Biden cited Hungary in his criticism of predecessor Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
“You see what’s happened in everything, from Belarus to Poland to Hungary, and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world … this president [Trump] embraces all the thugs in the world,” Biden said on Fox News.
Asked if he expects Biden’s administration will try to “prevent” his re-election, Orban said, “Sooner or later the Americans will realise that issues in Hungary must be decided by the Hungarians.”
“It is better even for the leftist liberal government in the US to have a good partner that is conservative Christian democratic and supported long-term by the Hungarian people,” said Orban.
“It’s better to have that than a government which is supported by America and takes its position but loses after several months, creating destabilisation and uncertainty,” he said.
“A not loved but stable partner is better than an uncertain new one. I hope the Americans will understand that.”
The 58-year-old Hungarian’s anti-immigration policies, such as building border fences, earned him praise from Trump, whom Orban called “a great friend of Hungary”.
Trump’s “America First” policy was “a very positive message here in Central Europe … it means Hungary could be first as well”, Orban told Carlson, who has broadcast from Hungary all week.
He also regretted the election loss in June of former Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The Hungarian conservative Christian, Judaeo-Christian democratic thinking lost two major international supporters, and opponents came into power,” he said.
Carlson, one of the Fox network’s most popular commentators, has lavished praise on Orban during his shows from Budapest.