Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has once again made it on to Politico’s “Most Powerful People in Europe” list for the year ahead, with Orbán being named the second most powerful in the “dreamer” category, coming in behind the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Orbán, who has been Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010 – and has previously also held the position between 1998 and 2002 – is number 21 out of 28 on the overall list.
While France’s Emmanuel Macron was named the most powerful overall, the list also breaks down into three different categories of power.
The “doers” have the most influence and the ability to make a direct impact while the “disrupters” are recognized as those who can shake the status quo. Finally, the “dreamers” are those who have a vision and message that can shape Europe’s policies and political direction.
Politico writes that “the Hungarian prime minister has demonstrated an affinity with one of the central tenets of marketing: Keep it simple. That, combined with well-picked fights with Brussels, is why Orbán has emerged as the standard-bearer for nationalism as an antithesis to what he describes as supranational overreach by the European Union.”
Politico writes in its summary of Orbán: “Held up as a model by nationalist leaders such as Poland’s Jarosław Kaczyński and Italy’s Matteo Salvini, the Hungarian strongman’s messaging has also resonated with elements of the center-right.”
Due to the Hungarian prime minister’s ability to deliver simple and effective messages, Politico named him the “sloganeer” by Politico, with the Brussels-based news organization giving the example of Orbán’s references to “Christian Europe” and his “Stop Soros” slogan as powerful messages that have resonated with Hungary’s electorate.
Runner-up to Macron on the list is Danish social liberal politician Margrethe Vestager, who has been Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age since Dec. 1, 2019. In third is the European Central Bank (ECB) governor Christine Lagarde, which also means that two of the top three movers and shakers are women.
The woman who has frequently been named the most powerful woman in the past, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was ranked only sixth as she neared the end of a long political career, with Politico’ searing assessment that “for someone who has been Germany’s chancellor for a decade and a half, Angela Merkel has accomplished surprisingly little”.
Her disciple, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, came in seventh, just ahead of Irish Prime Minister Leo Vardarkar.
Aside from Orbán, the Visegrád Group consisting of four Central European countries has only one other figure in the list, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová, who was listed among the “disrupters”.
Orbán has made it on to the list before, coming out on top in 2015, with Politico labeling him as the “conservative subversive” for his leadership during the migrant crisis.
Title image: Crop from Politico’s “Class of 2020” ranking.