Viktor Orbán is struggling to put “gender madness” and the EU’s support for gay rights at the center of an election campaign that has so far been dominated by uncomfortable questions about the Hungarian Prime Minister’s relationship with Vladimir Putin.
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Orbán, the EU’s longest-serving head of state, has scheduled a referendum for next month to approve laws banning the “promotion” of non-conformity, gender reassignment and homosexuality. For the first time in Hungarian politics, the vote will take place on the same day as the national elections.
The April 3 vote doubling is widely seen as an attempt by Orbán to “avoid criticism” by shifting focus from his historically “pro-Russian” position, he said The guard‘s Brussels correspondent Jennifer Rankin.
At an election rally over the weekend, Orbán told 100,000 supporters: “We will win the referendum to stop the gender madness sweeping the western world on Hungary’s borders. We will protect our families and our children – a father is a man, a mother is a woman and leave our children alone.”
But it’s also an opportunity for the Hungarian prime minister to deflect attention from the “tricky” issue where he stands on the Russian invasion of Ukrainecalled Al Jazeera.
Orbán “has spent his tenure earning the title of Putin’s closest EU ally,” the channel continued. And since the Russian president gave the order to invade Ukraine, “Budapest has continued to try to avoid angering the Kremlin.”
Although “Orbán has publicly condemned Russia’s war and supported EU sanctions,” he said on the world stage Politically“the history of pro-Orbán media in Hungary is very different”.
According to the news site, Budapest has quickly become the “EU capital of Russian disinformation”. “Reading and watching pro-state news in Hungary these days means getting a steady stream of pro-Kremlin framings, arguments and blatant conspiracies about the war in Ukraine.”
The propaganda push included claims that the CIA helped install the current Ukrainian government and that the US provoked Russia into attacking the neighboring Eastern European nation.
Of “from state media to pro-government media propped up with taxpayer-funded advertising,” Politico added, while experts with ties to Orbán’s Fidesz party “promote conspiracy theories about the conflict and put Russia’s aggression into perspective.”
Although his government “did not veto the Brussels sanctions,” Al Jazeera said, Orbán said, “Hungary will not reduce its dependence on Russian energy, nor will it allow arms bound for Ukraine to pass through its territory.” But this “ambiguity” reaps “international scorn”.
The Hungarian leader seems “dedicated to dividing the gap between Brussels and Moscow,” wrote Péter Krekó, director of the Budapest-based think tank Political Capital Institute, in an article about foreign policy. After nearly a month of war in Ukraine, Orbán’s government is still trying to “maintain its membership in Western alliances while siding with Russia.”
“But Orbán’s room is now limited,” Krekó said. “The reluctant support for the EU sanctions package after it was not blocked shows the power of the Western alliance.”
While Hungarian state media remain “home of Kremlin talking points,” public opinion across the country is changing as refugees begin to “appear at Hungarian train stations” and reports from Ukraine emerge, Politico said.
An “outpouring of sympathy for Ukrainians fleeing for their lives” created a “confusing atmosphere in a country where some citizens still remember firsthand how the Soviet Union brutally crushed the 1956 Hungarian revolution.”
And that leaves Orbán “walking a fine line” ahead of the April elections as he struggles to “avoid criticism of his pro-Putin policies” while “remaining on board with the EU and NATO,” Rankin said by The Guardian.
His greatest resistance peter marki-Zay, Orbán has accused of being too accommodating towards both Russia and China. “We only have one choice: We must choose Europe instead of the East and freedom instead of authoritarianism.” mArki-Zay said at an opposition rally last week.
The biggest problem for Orbán is that with the vote just weeks away, he is “struggling to neutralize a decade of pro-Putin messages,” he said financial times. Orbán, who has “long been pleased to display some of the EU’s clearest pro-Russian references,” is now being forced “to change his position as he tries to keep up with voters.”
“Fidesz did not expect such a difficult situation in the election campaign,” Robert Laszlo, electoral expert at Budapest think tank Political Capital, told the newspaper. “They now have an identity issue that is extremely risky for them.”
Al Jazeera argued that “after weeks of hesitation, Fidesz is now firmly establishing its own narrative”.
“In this scenario, Orbán is hailed as the guarantor of peace and stability for Hungarians in the midst of the ongoing war,” the broadcaster said.
Krekó warned in Foreign Policy that if voters re-elect Orbán, “he will threaten the West by breaking unity on sanctions” and “veto blackmail his so-called allies” on further measures against Russia.
“Hungary’s elections will soon decide how long the specter of Putinism will haunt Europe,” Krekó added.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/europe/956162/how-ukraine-war-impact-viktor-orban-hungary-election How the Ukraine war is affecting Viktor Orbán’s re-election