Former US ambassador attacks Orban

Former American Ambassador to Budapest, Eleni Kounalakis is running for Lieutenant Governor of California this year. In a Medium post the former diplomat harshly criticised Hungary’s government and warned that the “Orban model” can spread in the US.

Orban’s “hold on power is more entrenched than ever, and his xenophobic, nationalist platform continues to spread beyond Hungarian borders”, writes Kounalakis, who was ambassador to Hungary under President Barack Obama from 2010 to 2013.

“His reforms dramatically reduced checks and balances. He weakened democratic institutions by reducing the independence of the media and by asserting political influence over the judiciary, academic institutions, and even religious institutions,”

she writes.

Kounalakis claims that Donald Trump’s “2016 victory has been a boon for autocratic leaders everywhere. Both as a validator of their own heavy-handed approach to governance, and a symbol that winner-take-all leadership is back in fashion. Around the world, would-be autocrats are seizing the opportunity created by the election of Donald Trump to consolidate power as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

“The world is holding its breath to see what happens when a would-be autocrat — Donald Trump — meets the world’s oldest and strongest democracy. I have faith that our system will prevail. But not without the active engagement of our citizenry. Democracy, at its root, is self-government: government of the people, by the people, for the people. And people around the world are paying attention,”

she concludes.

Hungary Journal
Photo: CEU/Balazs Kocsik

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