Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday said “some kind of disease is eating away” at Western democracies, evoking former US president Donald Trump’s legal woes and Poland’s reform of state media.
The nationalist leader, who has frequent run-ins with Brussels over rule-of-law and other issues, said he saw “strange things in the Western democratic world today”.
During his annual press conference, he said: “A disease is eating away at… Western democracies,” declining to name any of the countries.
“We must be attentive because there is a large Western democracy where, if I understand correctly, they want to block one of the most favoured presidential candidates with legal hurdles to prevent him from running for office,” he said.
On Tuesday Colorado’s supreme court found Trump — for whom Orban has repeatedly expressed support — ineligible for the US presidency because of his involvement in the January 2021 assault on the Capitol.
Orban also criticised “another country, just as important, where a party with significant parliamentary representation is under national security surveillance.”
That was likely a reference to Germany, where intelligence services started monitoring the far-right AfD in 2021 for its extremist tendencies.
“And I see a third country where the takeover of television was done by the police force,” Orban said.
Poland recently saw a change in government, which saw the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) — a close ally of Orban’s Fidesz party — being replaced by a pro-EU coalition led by Donald Tusk.
This week, the new Polish government launched a reform of state media aiming to “restore its impartiality” and sacked their management.
Right-wing lawmakers staged a sit-in in state television buildings to protest the changes.
“If all this were happening in Hungary, perhaps NATO troops would already have intervened, which also raises the problem of double standards,” Orban concluded.
Since taking power in 2010, Orban has been regularly criticised by Brussels and international organisations over rule-of-law, migration and other issues.
In 2022, the European Parliament declared that the central European country was no longer a “full democracy”, but a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” in “serious breach” of EU democratic norms.
Journalists from several independent Hungarian media were excluded from Orban’s press conference.