Vladimir Putin Isn't The Only Ultra Right-Wing Foreign Leader Delighted By Donald Trump's Victory
It isn't news that Russian Vladimir Putin was happy to hear about Donald Trump's victory. However, Putin isn't the only foreign leader supporting Trump who you should be concerned about. Right-wing populist leaders across the European continent, from Marine Le Pen in France to Hungary's Viktor Orbán and Czech President Miloš Zeman have all sent the President-elect their hearty congratulations, and this is a worrying trend for progressive America.
Over the past couple of years, Europe as a whole has witnessed several right-wing populist parties and politicians rise to power, fueled by complaints about increased immigration and the changes that that brings. Now, the politicians who have capitalized most on those complaints and championed policies meant to curb immigration (policies that their opponents have often dubbed racist) are rushing to commend a man who they see as one of their own. Brexit architect Nigel Farage already campaigned with Trump and claimed that he would like to join Trump's administration, which is no surprise. But even more worrying that Farage, who is only a Member of the European Parliament, are the populist politicians with more power than him, who now very well have a powerful ally for themselves across the Atlantic.
On the less serious side of things is Czech President Miloš Zeman, who agrees with Trump's ideas on immigrants and political correctness but has very little power both in his own country and on the world stage. Zeman finds a more powerful Central European ally in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, once anti-communist hero turned right-wing darling, who was pushing Hungary to the right well before Farage ever became a household name. Orbán's Hungary is the same sort of "illiberal democracy" that you'll find in Putin's Russia, only now his ideas have taken root with right-wing parties across the continent, and he's no longer an outlier.
If Trump were to have a look at what Orbán has accomplished, he would probably turn to to the Hungarian leader for advice. Orbán actually did build a border fence tracing Hungary's entire southern border, and he's now seeking to build another, stronger one. He also held a referendum in Hungary about whether the country should accept the EU mandate to accept refugees, although it failed due to lack of turnout.
Orbán is currently the most powerful of this crowd in Europe, but those in support of liberal democracy across the continent have now had to come face to face with right-wing parties gaining power. Now, Trump won the presidency based on a campaign that aligns him and his supporters quite squarely with this trend. While for now people can only predict what will come out of a Trump presidency, it seems reasonable to say that European right-wing populism will only continue gaining steam now that its ideas also have such a strong proponent in the U.S.