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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Full article: Hungary’s Orban in sweeping victory, boosting EU populists (euobserver)