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In an interview with Daily Show host Trevor Noah, former US president Barack Obama referred to Hungary as having a top-down, hierarchical regime which treats its citizens as inferior, hvg.hu reports. The online interview centered around Obama’s recently published memoir, “A Promised Land”, focusing on his political career and presidency.

The book is aimed towards younger readers, encouraging them not to be satisfied with the status quo, but to strive to build a better world based on positive ideals. Around the topic of the memoir, Noah and Obama’s discussion touches on many political and systemic issues in today’s world.

Two Types of Leaders

In his discussion of world leaders, Obama reiterated a statement he made during a speech in South Africa regarding his two interpretations of leadership. He says that there are those who rule democratically, involving people in the decision-making process, and those who rule as strongmen. Strongmen, he says, do not view their citizens as equals, but as inferior, creating a “top-down, dominant-subordinate” system.

The former president does not believe this type of leader will disappear with the defeat of Donald Trump, he says there are examples of authoritarian rulers in places such as the Philippines, Hungary, and some other African and Asian countries.

When mentioning Hungary, Obama is specifically referring to prime minister Viktor Orbán. During his presidency, Obama and Orbán did not maintain positive relations. Relations were improved under Trump and Orbán’s leadership, but the incoming Biden Administration is much more likely to follow Obama’s approach.

The Future of US-Hungary Relations Under the Biden Administration
The Future of US-Hungary Relations Under the Biden Administration

The Orbán government has a rocky relationship with Democratic U.S. leaderships. How might U.S.-Hungarian relations progress under the Biden Administration, and how will changes in the attitude of the White House to the international scene affect Hungary? A Rocky Relationship Orbán and his government made it abundantly clear that they supported Donald Trump in the […]Continue reading

In the context of US-Hungarian relations, the former president’s interpretations of leadership can provide possible answers to why the relationship would stagnate under his and Biden’s Administrations, while flourishing under Trump. Obama’s view, simply put, asserts that strongmen promote strongmen, and democrats promote democrats.

Featured photo by MTI/EPA/Erik S. Lesser