Viktor Orban slips down on Politico's power player list

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Orbán is now only the third biggest power player in Europe on Politico's list

In the latest assessment of European power players by Politico, Viktor Orbán, has slipped down a notch in the rankings of European influencers-- despite his persistent anti-Brussels campaigns this year. Formerly holding the second spot behind Giorgia Meloni, Orbán now finds himself eclipsed by the governor of the Russian Central Bank and Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan separatist in exile in Brussels.

Politico commended Orbán for his enduring confrontations with Brussels, his alliance with Russian President Putin, and his aspirations for a surge of far-right influence in the 2024 European Parliament elections. According to the publication, Orbán might be gearing up to leverage Hungary's EU presidency in the latter half of 2024 to champion policies that diverge from European values. However, his strategy is complicated by the setback of his Polish allies in the October elections, necessitating the quest for new alliances within the European Council.

Donald Tusk, returning to Polish domestic politics, claimed the title of Europe's most influential figure. Volodymyr Zelensky, last year's Man of the Year, has transitioned to the top spot for Dreamers this year. A noteworthy shift from the previous rankings sees Giorgia Meloni moving from the leading wheelwright to the foremost achiever.

Conversely, absent from this year's list are German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who held the top position as the most impactful achiever last year, Sanna Marin, and Vladimir Putin along with his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

PM says Hungary has a 'ninja government'

Last week, Hungary's governing right-wing Fidesz party initiated a TikTok campaign featuring government members portrayed as ninja warriors through stylized AI drawings. Far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán introduced this ninja theme during the latest party congress, asserting, "Our government is a ninja government. We won't be the ones left on the ground, but the enemy. We will return to base unscathed." 

The ninja analogy is a part of a targeted communication strategy to engage young voters. Notably, several weeks prior, the government released a TikTok video portraying government figures as Star Wars heroes, with international financier and philanthropist George Soros depicted as Emperor Palpatine.

Orban congratulates Wilders on election victory

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has congratulated far-right politician Geert Wilders for securing the most seats in the Dutch parliamentary elections.  "The winds of change are here! Congratulations to Geert Wilders on winning the Dutch elections!"Orbán's Twitter account reads. " On Wednesday, Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) secured 37 seats out of 150. Known for his openly anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, and anti-EU stance, Wilders is a vocal supporter of former US President Donald Trump and Orbán, and visited Budapest in the past. Hungary's foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, also took to Facebook to congratulate Wilders: "Another country has emphatically rejected illegal migration. We trust that the message resonates loudly enough from The Hague to Brussels."

Additionally, Orbán conveyed congratulations to Argentina's newly elected president, Javier Milei, during a phone call. He accepted an invitation to attend Milei's inauguration scheduled for December 10.

President of the European Council traveled to Hungary following Hungarian PM's letter

Charles Michel, chief of the European Council, visited Budapest for discussions with Orbán, as confirmed by Michel's spokesperson. The visit follows Orbán writing a letter to Michel, in which Hungary's leader threatened to disrupt imminent talks on Ukraine unless European leaders acceded to engaging in a strategic dialogue on their Ukraine policy. Orbán asserted that no decisions regarding the accession talks, financial assistance for Ukraine, or additional sanctions against Russia could proceed until leaders acceded to this "urgent" discussion. According to a source within the EU diplomatic circles, Orbán has effectively trapped every Ukraine-related decision with his veto threat.

This missive surfaces amid the ongoing impasse between the Hungarian government and the EU concerning the freezing of billions of euros in funds due to Hungary's rule-of-law track record. On Thursday, the European Commission approved Hungary's recovery and resilience plan, potentially unlocking €920 million in EU funds without any attached conditions. This financial infusion is a component of the "pre-financing" for the RePower EU initiative, aimed at diversifying away from imported fossil fuels.