ISSN 2330-717X

EU Urges Hungary To Defend Bloc’s Values After Orban Victory


(RFE/RL) — The European Union has called on Hungary to help defend the bloc’s values after right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed a landslide victory in the country’s general elections, setting him up for a third consecutive term.

“The EU is a union of democracies and values,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on April 9, adding that the defense of these values was a “common duty of all member states, without exception.”

Brussels has repeatedly clashed with Orban over his anti-immigration policies and rejection of the EU’s refugee-resettlement program, as well as his clampdown on civil-society groups.

Schinas said commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will write to Orban later in the day to congratulate him on his “clear victory” and that he would call him on April 10 to discuss “issues of common interest.”

With most of the ballots counted, his Fidesz party won almost half of the vote, according to election authorities. Turnout was higher than expected, at a near-record 69.3 percent.

The preliminary results show Fidesz will get the 133 seats in the 199-seat parliament needed for a two-thirds majority, allowing it to push through constitutional changes.

The party won two-thirds victories at both previous elections.

The radical nationalist Jobbik party was in second place with 20 percent of the vote, while a Socialist-led coalition took 12.2 percent. Leaders of the two parties resigned in light of the result.

“Dear friends, there’s a big battle behind us, we secured a historic victory — we got a chance, we created a chance for us to defend Hungary,” Orban told supporters late on April 8 after preliminary results were released.

Polish officials welcomed his election victory, with Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski, who is Warsaw’s envoy to the EU, calling it a confirmation of Central Europe’s “emancipation policy.”

Both the Polish and Hungarian governments share similar visions that involve keeping out migrants and handing over fewer powers to the EU.

A German government spokesman said Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Orban and called for cooperation despite differences.

“It is quite obvious that there are also controversial issues in our cooperation, the different stances in migration policy come to mind,” Steffen Seibert told reporters.

Orban, who is 56 and also served as prime minister from 1998 to 2002, campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform.

Over the past years, his administration has presided over strong economic growth, while expanding control over the media and, through allies in the business sector, gaining influence over the banking, energy, construction, and tourism sectors.

Some critics also accuse Orban of being too accommodating to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On April 9, Fidesz parliamentary spokesman Janos Halasz said that one of the first laws to be passed by the new parliament could be legislation that would make it harder for nongovernmental organizations working with migrants and asylum seekers to continue their activities in Hungary

The proposed legislation, dubbed Stop Soros by the government before the elections, is part of Orban’s campaign targeting U.S.-Hungarian billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom he accuses of meddling in Hungarian politics and leading the liberal opposition.

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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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