Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is the leader least beloved by EU governments and institutions. The European Commission thinks him too spendthrift and has launched proceedings against Hungary for breaching rules on budget deficits. The Venice Commission, a constitutional advisory body affiliated with the Council of Europe, has accused the government of amassing too much power and violating human rights.
Orbán has done little to win friends abroad: he called the European Commission’s action “extremely stupid” and compared the EU to the Soviet Union. So should European governments and officials be concerned that Hungary’s neighbor Slovakia has just elected another firebrand, former Prime Minister Robert Fico, to lead its government? Is Orbán a sign of a broader trend – is the economic crisis lifting populists to power in Central Europe?