Joe Biden has been an inevitable figure in US internal affairs for 48 years now, due to his compromises. As we reported earlier, he also has some previous ties to Hungary; he knows the country pretty well – the question is, will he leave the Hungarian government in peace?
Biden – as opposed to the republican doctrine before Trump – has never believed in direct intervention, says Napi.hu. During the eight years of his vice presidency, it happened only once, when he called upon the attorney general to resign when in 2014 the public revolted against Viktor Janukovic. This case was now used against him during the presidential election campaign. In the time of the American banning scandal in Hungary – when among others, Ildikó Vida, president of Hungarian tax authority was denied to enter the US –, Biden remained silent, the US foreign affairs considered the case to belong to Hungary’s interior affairs.
Therefore, it is not so likely for Biden to make aggressive moves against Hungary. Although he could have revenge on Eastern-Europe, if he wanted to: Janez Jansa Slovenian Prime Minister congratulated Trump first and was late to congratulate Biden. Viktor Orbán Hungarian Prime Minister was not among the first ones to congratulate either; moreover, it was well-known that he roots for Trump.
When Péter Szijjártó Hungarian Foreign Minister was expecting answers on Biden and his son’s Ukrainian cases, he did not react. In fact, it would have been unusual to do so, as the American presidential election is considered a taboo in foreign affairs due to its unpredictability. The defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016 was a good example to show how quick the balance in forces can change, so it is very risky to choose sides in advance.
Although during the election campaigns Biden referred to the Hungarian and Polish governments as authoritarian regimes, he is not expected to initiate conflicts based on the rule of law in the region. During the abovementioned scandal in 2014, the democratic government handled the case privately; if Hungarian leaders do not bring it up, Washington would not have said a word.
On the other hand, it is expected that similarly as during the Obama-administration, the Hungarian government will not be welcomed in the White House. Back then, Péter Szijjártó could only have a debate with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. The question is whether the Democrats will choose to isolate or maintain intensive dialogues despite the disagreements. The energy policy of the region could play a crucial role in this: Democrats want to prioritise American liquefied gas instead of Russian natural gas.
NATO could be a buffer zone between the two parties: while Trump dramatically neglected it, Biden in his campaign promised to strengthen it. Hungary belongs to one of the few countries that have been continuously increasing its military expenses – this could open the door for reconciliation.
Many expect for Biden to bring back “soft” politics towards Eastern-Europe. The region might not be in the limelight, but the Hungarian rule of law could expect some criticism.