Saturday

11th Jul 2020

Hungary's Orban in sweeping victory, boosting EU populists

Hungary's nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban secured a third term with a sweeping majority in a boost to Europe's populist forces.

Orban's Fidesz has likely won a two-third majority in parliament in Sunday's (8 April) general election, paving the way for amending the constitution, the electoral law, rules on local governments and the courts.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Hungarians voted in record numbers, but contrary to expectations, the large turnout favoured Orban's Fidesz, not the opposition.

Fidesz's campaign against migrants, NGOs and US billionaire George Soros attracted more voters to Orban.

During the campaign Fidesz, with the help of state and pro-government media, promoted a conspiracy theory that the Hungarian opposition, the UN, the EU, and Soros, had plotted to turn Hungary into an "immigrant country" threatening its security and national identity.

That seemed to have boosted Fidesz, which won with 48.5 percent compared to 44.9 percent four years ago.

Fidesz will have 133 seats in the 199-member parliament, the same number of seats it won in 2014, while the right-wing, nationalist Jobbik party will become the second largest with 26 seats. The Socialists came in third with 20 representatives.

Fidesz won a two-thirds majority in 2010 and 2014, but later lost it in by-elections in 2015.

Leaders of Jobbik, the Socialists and several smaller liberal parties resigned after the resounding defeat for the opposition.

Opposition parties failed to coordinate candidates on the national level to offset the built-in advantages Fidesz enjoys after rewriting the election law in 2011.

"Migration is indeed a winning card for Orban, it prevails against all other issues. Lack of proper opposition cooperation provides another two-thirds majority for Fidesz. This is the end of the opposition as we know it," Andras Biro-Nagy, an analyst with the Policy Solutions think tank tweeted on Sunday night.

"We have achieved a decisive victory," Orban told a cheering crowd on Sunday, adding that voters created an opportunity to "defend Hungary".

The sweeping victory will serve as an opportunity for Fidesz to approve the planned "Stop Soros" legislation package targeting civil organisations that are funded by Soros's Open Society Foundations and which deal with migration.

Orban may also decide to further centralise government control, crack down on critical media, put courts under more political pressure, while using EU money to prop up his political allies.

"Despite all accusations, Hungarian democracy is fine," government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on Sunday night referring to the close to 70 percent turnout rate.

Asked about the Stop Soros plan, Kovacs warned that organisations meddling with politics will have to be shut down.

Far-right admirers

Orban's election win will also boost his ambitions in Europe, and the strong mandate will embolden him in his fights within the EU.

Hungary's opposition to migration quotas is expected to harden even further.

Orban's self-styled illiberal model of governing, and his tough anti-Muslim stance will also continue to serve as a model for other leaders in Europe.

European far right chiefs were quick to congratulate the Hungarian leader on Sunday night.

France' National Front head, Marine Le Pen, said Orban's victory proved that "the inversion of values and mass immigration advocated by the EU are rejected again".

Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of Germany's anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party tweeted: "A bad day for the EU, a good one for Europe".

The Dutch anti-immigration, anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders also congratulated Orban.

Opinion

Orban's EU funds gamble

The Orban regime in Hungary is continuing the same, destructive, campaigns undermining the legitimacy of EU institutions - while at the same time it is one of the largest beneficiaries of EU funding.

Commission takes Orban's Hungary to court

The EU executive steps up several probes over Hungary's illiberal tendencies, while it is also suing Poland and the Czech Republic over migrant quotas.

Analysis

Orban, the 'anti-Merkel', emboldens European right

Hungary's premier Viktor Orban has inspired 'illiberalism' across central Europe and far-right politicians in the West. His expected re-election this Sunday will further reinforce his standing as a symbol for being tough on Europe's political mainstream.

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress

Italians, Czechs and Latvians perceive less corruption than a few years ago in Transparency International's annual ranking. The Berlin-based NGO said Finland was a 'worrying case', whilst Bulgaria - which holds the EU presidency - is EU's most corrupt.

What to do with Orban? EU centre-right ponders

While the majority of the centre-right group in the European Parliament want Orban's Fidesz party to stay, some MEPs argue the xenophobic tone of Fidesz's election campaign is a red line.

Agenda

Macron and Syria top EU agenda This WEEK

French president to deliver speech on EU democratic model after populist victories in Hungary and Italy and amid an escalation of the Syria crisis.

News in Brief

  1. Citizens' perception of judicial independence drops
  2. Irish finance minister voted in as eurogroup president
  3. Italy's League party opens office near old communist HQ
  4. 'Significant divergences' remain in Brexit talks
  5. Germany identifies 32,000 right-wing extremists
  6. WHO to hold probe of global Covid-19 response
  7. China accuses Australia of 'gross interference' on Hong Kong
  8. EU to let Croatia, Bulgaria take first step to join euro

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  2. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  3. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds
  4. MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform
  5. If EU wants rule of law in China, it must help 'dissident' lawyers
  6. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  7. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  8. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us