SW Trump populists

In Budapest, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, says he is “rooting for another victory for Donald Trump”. In Rio de Janeiro, Jair Bolsonaro has been pictured in a Trump 2020 campaign hat.Rightwing nationalist politicians around the globe are abandoning the usual diplomatic etiquette of hedging bets before foreign elections and instead are throwing their support firmly behind Trump in November’s US vote in the hope that he can confound the pollsters for a second time and win another four years in power.While surveys suggest that a comfortable majority of the global population disapproves of Trump, insurgent far-right movements are wary of a return to geopolitics as usual if he leaves the White House.“We are very familiar with the foreign policy of US Democratic administrations, built as it is on moral imperialism,” Orbán, who has positioned himself as Europe’s leading proponent of “illiberal democracy”, wrote in a recent essay. “We have tasted it – albeit under duress. We didn’t like it and we don’t want a second helping.”Last week Trump’s challenger, Joe Biden, said “all the thugs in the world” were drawing inspiration from Trump, name-checking the governments in Hungary and Poland and drawing a furious response from Hungarian officials.For Orbán and other nationalist leaders, there may be concrete policy benefits in a second Trump term, but the biggest draw would be the immeasurable psychological benefit of having a politician like Trump occupying the world’s most important office. If Biden wins, it may be taken as a sign that the populist moment is over.“It would be seen as a major failure of populist nationalism as a governing ideology, particularly at a time when societies are looking for competent leaders who can steer their countries through the Covid crisis,” said Erin Kristin Jenne, a professor of international relations at Central European University.During his divisive 2016 campaign and throughout his time in office, Trump has offered a blueprint and a psychological boost for rightwing nationalists. Ágoston Mráz, who runs the pro-government Nézőpont Institute in Budapest, said Orbán and his Fidesz party had watched Trump carefully over the last few years, for example adopting and adapting his “America First” rhetoric. Orbán, who has been in office for more than a decade, now frequently speaks about “Hungary first” policies.“Trump is the trendsetter and what Trump managed in the US, even a party like Fidesz can learn from. It is observed what kind of tools Trump uses, and through polls in Hungary it is checked if it works here,” he said.Of particular note is Trump’s popularisation of the phrase “fake news” and his rants against the media. In Orbán’s government frequently accuses critical outlets of peddling fake news, and its coronavirus measures have included potential jail time for journalists spreading misinformation about the pandemic.The “fake news” phrase has also been used by authorities to justify regulations and prosecutions in South Korea, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Brazil. Egypt’s government passed a law in 2018 criminalising the spread of “false news”, and has used it to charge at least 19 journalists as well as bloggers and even people who post videos online decrying problems such as sexual harassment. In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has railed against “fake news” outlets and introduced steep fines for news that damages “the interest or the credit of the state”.A recent European poll found that no more than 20% of respondents in each of seven countries surveyed wanted Trump to win. However, among some central European governments and many far-right parties on the fringes of politics elsewhere, there is admiration for Trump.

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