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Is Hungary in for an "anyone but Orbán" election?

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader," creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old, whom some have dubbed the "Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Fighting for democracy in Hungary and Hong Kong

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes sees parallels between Hungary's politics and what happened in the US under Trump, and believes the EU has been too lenient towards Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's autocratic tendencies. Rhodes, who met with democracy activists in Hungary and Hong Kong when researching his book, "After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made," observes that Hungary's opposition groups have been strengthened by banding together to form a united front against corrupt politicians. There's less reason for hope in Hong Kong, says Rhodes, and one reason is that the US never made it a priority. "At every stage of the last 30 years, a commercial interest, or a security interest, or a geopolitical interest was always above what our interests were on an issue like Hong Kong," Rhodes tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is American democracy in danger?

Why anti-democratic movements in Europe and the US are remarkably similar

Political movements that promote authoritarian leaders and anti-democratic governments have gained significant ground in Eastern Europe in the past twenty years. And according to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum, it's a trend that goes beyond that specific region. "This will sound very bizarre, but the trajectory of events and the nature of political debate in Poland is amazingly similar to the United States, the kinds of arguments that people make, the, the level of polarization… you can see this impulse to destroy and undermine the institutions of democracy everywhere." What is the appeal of such movements and what has the pandemic done to expand their influence?

Applebaum and Ian Bremmer take on those questions on GZERO World, which began airing on US public television stations nationwide on Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Authoritarianism's Enduring Appeal: Anne Applebaum Discusses

Authoritarianism’s enduring appeal: Anne Applebaum discusses

Across the world, from the Philippines to Hungary to Venezuela, nations have embraced authoritarian rule in recent years, in many cases with significant popular support. What is the enduring appeal of authoritarianism, what has the pandemic done to accelerate its growth, and how susceptible is the United States to its sway? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to investigate the allure of these anti-democratic movements and to shed light on their unlikely champions.

Podcast: Authoritarianism’s Enduring Appeal

Listen: From the Philippines to Hungary to Venezuela, countries across the world have embraced authoritarian rule, in many cases with significant popular support. What is the enduring appeal of authoritarianism, how susceptible is the United States to its sway, and what has the pandemic done to accelerate its growth? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum joins Ian Bremmer to discuss.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Is the European Union too b​ig? Wolfgang Ischinger on the EU's future

One of Europe's top diplomats, Wolfgang Ischinger, joins GZERO World in our latest episode to discuss a wide range of geopolitical issues—from US/EU relations to China. In this clip, the former ambassador to the US and UK and current Chairman of the Munich Security Conference offers his thoughts on the rise of populism in EU nations like Hungary and Poland, and what it means for the future of the union.

What We're Watching: Afghanistan's progress, Venezuela's opposition boycotts, EU vs "illiberals"

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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What We're Watching: Iran's nuclear tug-of-war, Hong Kong's doomed democracy, Hungarian politician's "misstep"

Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

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