Hungarian President Janos Ader has taken a high-profile approach to cajoling the world’s largest polluters, including the U.S. and China, to adopt and more aggressively pursue goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change but has accomplished little more than lip service on the issue within his own country.
Ader, 60, a lawyer and politician, has been the nation’s president since 2012. He rose quickly through the political ranks and for many represented positive change for the country. In 2016, Ader wrote a letter to the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas polluters, suggesting they speed up implementation of the Paris Agreement.
However, Hungary has a parliamentary form of government, so much of the real power rests with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Both men are aligned with the Fidesz party which depending on who you ask is either center-right or more right-leaning.
In 'Poland and Hungary democracy as we normally understand it is already dead. And it could all too easily happen here. We’re suffering the same disease — white nationalism run wild — that has already effectively killed democracy in other Western nations' https://t.co/rj8ViSa3Ix
— Notes from Poland __ (@notesfrompoland) August 28, 2018
Critics point out Orban is far from a green-leaning leader, and generally dismisses the development of renewable energy sources, according to Climate Home News.
Fossil fuels, including gas, oil and coal, account for roughly 70% of the nation’s energy mix, with nuclear power adding another 17%, and biofuels a scant eight percent, government documents show.
Members of the Jobbik party, representing a right-wing populist view, have been critical of both Ader’s lack of follow through on developing renewable energy, and other domestic issues, including the signing of a controversial “slave law” last December that nearly doubles the amount of overtime an employer can demand from employees without prompt payment.
“I studied the changes to the labor law, and its provisions do not run contrary to the constitution,” Ader said in a statement after parliament approved the law in December. He added the law was no stricter than labor regulations in similar European Union countries.
Hungary had an unemployment rate in 2017 of 4.2%, the lowest in the E.U.
It also suffers from a brain drain, in which well-educated Hungarians take advantage of free movement throughout Europe.
While Hungarians have looked to Ader to soften some of Orban’s policies, no such changes have come. Orban became prime minister for the second time in 2010 after holding the office from 1998 to 2002. In recent elections, the Fidesz party received more than two-thirds of votes cast, providing Orban, and Ader, for that matter, a mandate for their agenda.
Orban has used that mandate to virtually gut a free press, expel academic thought leaders, and roll back civil rights.
The U.S. is keeping sanctions at the ready against close associates of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán amid worries the Central European state is a growing liability for Western interests https://t.co/PwiH8b5uFR
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 15, 2019
The prime minister met with President Trump at the White House earlier this week, after which Trump referred to the Hungarian leader as a twin brother.
“It’s like we’re twins,” Trump said, according to a statement to a Hungarian news outlet.
Both Trump and Orban share strong anti-immigrant sentiments.
Trump to Hungary's far-right leader Viktor Orbán: "You're respected all over Europe. Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that's okay. You've done a good job and you've kept your country safe." pic.twitter.com/F2J9gJgALZ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 13, 2019