BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The outcome of the U.S. presidential election marks the end of a period of “liberal non-democracy” that was mainstream in the past two decades, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday.
Hungary’s conservative leader in July became the first European head of state to express a clear preference for Republican Donald Trump, who scored a surprise victory over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on Wednesday.
Like Orban, Trump, a billionaire investor, has also earned rebukes from opponents for what they see as more friendly business and political ties with Russia, Hungary’s former Communist overlord and the United States’ main Cold War rival.
“This is the second day of a historic event, in which Western civilization appears to successfully break free from the confines of an ideology,” Orban told a conference organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
“We are living in the days where what we call liberal non-democracy - in which we lived for the past 20 years - ends, and we can return to real democracy,” said Orban, without explicitly referring to Trump’s election win.
Orban, whose speech two years ago on building an “illiberal state” earned him rebukes from the domestic opposition and some foreign capitals, said the time was ripe for politicians to break the shackles of political correctness.
The combative 53-year-old premier has clashed several times with European Union authorities over reforms affecting the independence of the judiciary and the central bank.
His razor-wire border fence to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East last year drew criticism from human rights groups.
“We can call problems by their name and find solutions not derived from an ideology but based on pragmatic, creative thinking rooted in common sense,” Orban said.
“We are two days after the big bang and still alive,” he said. “What a wonderful world. This also shows that democracy is creative and innovative.”
Orban said Trump’s victory, like Britons’ decision to leave the European Union, represented an important shift in global popular thinking.
“Brexit is not a tragedy, even remotely,” Orban said. “It is not a defeat, but an attempt by a great nation to make itself successful in other ways than what everyone else had considered the path to success.”
Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Kevin Liffey