Salvini Holds Up Hungary as Model of Successful Economic and Immigration Reform

Salvini Orban
Luca Bruno/AP/Atilla Kisbenedek/AFK/Getty

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has pointed to Hungary’s stellar economic reform under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as a model for Italy and Europe.

With Italy’s populist government under attack from the European Union (EU) over the question of immigration, Mr. Salvini has noted that Hungary’s economic health has progressed hand-in-hand with a well-structured immigration policy.

“At this point the left exists only to insult me and defend a banker-led EU and boundless immigration,” Salvini tweeted Tuesday before meeting with Mr. Orbán in Milan.

“In Hungary, unemployment is under 5 percent, the flat tax for business is at 9 percent and at 15 percent for individuals, immigration is under control, and the economy has been growing at 4 percent,” he added.

A cornerstone of the governing platform of Italy’s populist coalition government has been a flat tax designed to simplify the nation’s byzantine tax laws and lighten the burden for companies, making Italy a more attractive business destination.

Like Italy, the Hungarian government under Mr. Orbán has been pushing back against EU efforts to impose immigration quotas, insisting on national sovereignty and the right of citizens to control their own destinies without external controls.

For his part, Mr. Salvini successfully prevented 177 African migrants from disembarking from the coastguard ship the Ubaldo Diciotti for almost a week while he called for guarantees that other EU member states would take most of them. Salvini said that he wore threats from a Sicilian prosecutor over his hardline stance as a “badge of honor.”

Brussels is reportedly nervous about Tuesday’s meeting between Salvini and Orbán, and especially the prospect of a stable partnership among European nationalists that could play a major role in next year’s European election.

“It doesn’t matter what they actually say,” declared Mario Borghezio, an MEP from Salvini’s League party. “At this moment the meeting between these two forces is an historic opportunity to lay the ground for something new that Europe’s public is waiting for.”

Salvini has reiterated his promise that Italy would “no longer be Europe’s refugee camp,” an approach that resonates with Mr. Orbán, who has promised to put Hungary’s citizens first.

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