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Hungary's Orban convinced Trump will win U.S. election, has no plan B

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday he was convinced that Donald Trump will win another term in November’s U.S. presidential election and has made no plans for any other outcome.

FILE PHOTO: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban holds a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, June 12, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

“The only reason why I’m sitting here after spending more than 30 years in politics is that I always believe in my plan A,” the nationalist leader told Reuters in an interview in Brussels when asked about the looming U.S. vote.

“We have an exceptionally good relationship with Trump. Probably the level of openness and kindness and helping each other will be lower (if Democrat challenger Joe Biden wins the U.S. election). But my calculation is OK. He (Trump) will win.”

Orban this week endorsed Trump’s re-election bid, saying his rival Democrats had forced a “moral imperialism” on the world that illiberal leaders like himself reject. [LINK]

Orban is a nationalist leader regularly at loggerheads with the EU over his anti-immigration campaigns and moves to put the judiciary, NGOs, media and academics under more state control.

He clashed with the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over what critics said was an erosion of democratic values by his government.

Asked what the impact of a Trump victory would be for the EU, Orban said for those who view the bloc as built around its institutions it would be a blow.

“If you understand the European Union as a centralised power the spirit and heart of which is provided by the institutions - Trump is not the best option,” he said.

“But if you believe that the European Union is nothing else but just a community of member states - Trump is OK, is by far the best.”

He said that if Trump does win the election, the EU will need to normalise its trade relationship with the United States and also establish clarity about the long-term presence of U.S. troops on European soil.

“The European Union has a huge trade surplus with the United States. The (U.S.) President always raises the point that he’d like to decrease it by changing regulations. Customs, basically. It’s in the air, it’s not fixed.”

He welcomed Poland’s proposal to host U.S. troops that are being withdrawn from Germany, but said this would not be necessary for Hungary because it is not facing a direct threat from Russia.

Orban said Hungary would get to the NATO requirement - strongly backed by Trump - of spending 2% of GDP on defence. Asked how long that would take, he said: “Not more than five years.”

Orban faces a challenge to his decade-long rule in parliamentary elections due in early 2022 as Hungary braces for the economic and social impact of a new rise in coronavirus infections.

Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Angus MacSwan