Viktor Orban, Hungary’s hard-hitting right-wing prime minister, has spent his last 12 years in power winning the “Wladimir Putinclosest ally of the EU”. In exactly two weeks, Hungarian voters will be heading to the polls to discuss Mr Orban’s candidacy for a fourth consecutive term as head of government.
to send Putin’s decision Tanks to Ukraine on February 24 turned the Russian leader into an internationally despised war criminal. This has confronted Mr Orban with the urgent need to reconsider his strategy in the fight against the united front of all six major opposition parties.
The leader of the self-proclaimed illiberal but democratic Fidesz party, which finally split from Europe’s mainstream Christian Democrat bloc EPP just 12 months ago, had viewed next month’s elections as more of the same. Mr Orban and his lieutenants should continue their political-cultural war against old enemies, including liberals, migrants and the EU, with frequent references to US-based billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, who was born in Hungary and has long been painted as a hate figure .
But the aftermath of the weeks of Ukraine scare – with 250,000 refugees fleeing to Hungary – has swept away many certainties and made years of cozying up to Putin downright problematic for Mr Orban and Fidesz.
Anecdotally, one can hear die-hard Orbanites spreading fake news and suspicions about Ukraine. But opponents are emboldened, and less staunch Fidesz supporters are open to being persuaded to break new political ground.
For the first time in years, the united opposition is given a chance. Their leader is an inconspicuous mayor of a small town called Hodmezovasarhely – comparable to Limerick. Peter Marki-Zay is a conservative who opposes same-sex marriage, abortion and divorce. But most importantly, he’s not in favor of legislating against such things.
“In Western society, the church does not determine everyday life,” he said. His election as alternate prime minister came as a surprise but could prove tactically advantageous. He often sounds like an old-school US Republican who prefers low taxes and a small government.
It took some time for Mr Orban to find a new political groove after Putin’s tanks rolled into Ukraine and rockets began raining down on the unfortunate people over three weeks ago.
He has not tacitly opposed any of the EU sanctions against Moscow and has maintained his country as a NATO member.
Then, last Tuesday, he turned the country’s national holiday, which commemorates Hungary’s 1848 revolution against the absolutist Habsburg monarchs, into a “day of peace.” The new mantra offered voters a classic choice between “a pro-peace right and a pro-war left.”
Mr Orban told the crowd on Tuesday’s “Peace Day” that Hungary must stay out of this war. “We cannot come between the Ukrainian anvil and the Russian hammer,” he said rather succinctly.
But it was also noted that, while tacitly abiding by EU sanctions against Russia, he has made no attempt to reduce Hungary’s dependence on Russian energy. Nor will he join his former Eastern Bloc neighbors in NATO to arm Ukraine or allow weapons destined there to transit his country.
His opponents quickly moved their election campaign to the same room. Katalin Cseh, an MEP from the opposition Momentum group, said they have long been suspicious of Fidesz’s collaboration with Putin.
Mr Marki-Zay, the future new prime minister, said the election boiled down to a direct decision on whether Hungary would go east or west. “Orban and Putin or the West and Europe – that’s the mission,” he said. “A choice between the dark or the bright side of history.”
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/viktor-orbans-alliance-with-vladimir-putin-could-be-about-to-backfire-at-the-ballot-box-41463765.html Viktor Orban’s alliance with Vladimir Putin could backfire at the ballot box