Hungary, today the vote: Orban aims for the fourth term

The unknown of the war between Russia and Ukraine on the elections. The challenge is between government forces and ‘United for Hungary’, the alliance of six opposition parties

Ballots open today in Hungary, where Viktor Orban is aiming for the fourth term, becoming the EU’s longest-serving prime minister after Angela Merkel’s withdrawal. In recent days, the prime minister summarized his “policy” as follows: “Before God I must not answer for the people of Ukraine, but of Hungary”, “neither a friend of Ukraine, nor of Russia, but a friend of Hungary “. A policy that he launched when the invasion of the neighboring country ordered by a leader very close to him like Vladimir Putin completely upset his campaign to win the fourth consecutive term as premier of the ex-communist country he transformed into what he proudly defines an “illiberal democracy”.

Since the conflict began, Orban has done everything because today’s elections, already insidious, because he stands for the first time the six opposition parties coalesced around a single candidatedid not turn into a referendum on his relations with Putin, the friend Orban met in Moscow a few weeks before the invasion, in early February, to also discuss an increase in Russian gas flows to Hungary.

A closeness that is obviously creating tensions with Ukraine: “You have to decide who you are with,” President Volodymyr Zelensky recently told Orban publicly. In response, pro-government media, and even the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó, have accused the Ukrainian government of interference in the elections, claiming, without proof, that the opposition, in exchange for Kiev’s support, has promised weapons and support. for energy sanctions if he wins the elections.

The war cast a shadow over the entire election campaign – Orban said recently – the issue of peace and security is now part of what is at stake in the elections. And our message is clear: only Fidesz can create peace in Hungary, only we can guarantee the security of the Hungarian people “.

The last-minute polls that give it to the head seem to indicate that the strategy is having successeven if the gap is not comparable to the avalanche victory four years ago, and many point to the possibility of a head-to-head between Prime Minister Fidesz’s party and the opposition coalition that supports Peter Marki-Zay, conservative mayor of a small citizen, Catholic father of seven children.

The war in Ukraine has also caused yet another tension between Orban and Brussels, with the Hungarian premier, faced with the unity of the block in imposing sanctions on Moscow and sending weapons to Kiev, who opposed more stringent measures against Russia, especially on the energy front. The victory and a new mandate of Orban would then put the Union in the position of finally having to face the question of whether to block the funds destined to Hungary for violations of the rule of law. This is why Sunday’s vote is a choice between “Orban and Europe”, explains to Politico Klara Dobrev, number two of the opposition coalition who is also convinced that “the war in Ukraine and the Russian aggression have changed many things” .

Despite the rhetoric, Orban in recent weeks has aligned himself with his Western allies, has allowed NATO to deploy troops in the western part of the country and has not opposed the move by the EU to allocate 500 million euros for weapons and other military aid to the country. ‘Hungary. And he also supported the various sanctions packages launched against Russia so far.

But the electoral message he is addressing to the Hungarians is that the country must not supply arms to Ukraine – and not allow the passage of arms across the border between Hungary and Ukraine – and that it must oppose other steps that could jeopardize the country. economy of the country, such as energy sanctions. “We are giving the Ukrainians everything we can, even beyond our capabilities – he said – but we will not respond to any request from them that will destroy our community, either in a biological sense with our children who die from a war of others, or with the downfall of the Hungarian economy “.

Polls show that 64% of Hungarians consider Moscow’s action more an aggression than a defense, but among Fidesz voters 43% are convinced that Russia had the right to act. While 90% of the opposition voters think that Orban should condemn Putin in harsher tones, an opinion shared by only 8% of the premier’s supporters.