German minister lauds Orban win
A German minister says the European Union must drop its “arrogance and condescension” towards Hungary, where populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban has won a third term.
Interior Minister of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) wants limits on Muslim migration, while Orban portrays himself rather more dramatically as a defender of “Christian” Europe, despite Hungary’s tiny immigrant community.
The construction of a border fence (pictured) in 2015 along the borders with Croatia and Serbia became a symbol of pride for Orban’s supporters and of Europe’s disunity over immigration.
Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany tweeted its congratulations to Orban, saying it was a bad day for the EU, but a good day for Europe.
Not that Orban has plans to leave the EU. The country has experienced consistent economic growth since 2014, with 80 per cent of exports going to other members and considerable funding flowing into Hungary from m EU-backed infrastructure projects.
While Orban has praised Russia and sought to draw Hungary closer to its former colonial masters, there seems little prospect that the economy could derive the benefits it gains from EU membership through other avenues.
Orban, 54, is defying EU migration and rule-of-law policies while the bloc’s election monitors said the vote was marked by media bias and xenophobia.
OSCE observers said “voters had a wide range of political options, but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing constricted the space for genuine political debate”.
The election was held in an “adverse climate” and rivals could not compete with Orban on an equal basis, it said.
Orban’s Fidesz party campaigned on a Eurosceptic, anti-immigration platform and won a two-thirds majority in parliament, as it did in the two previous elections, while only securing around half of the votes.
Germany’s CSU, sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, has invited Orban to its congresses and praises his anti-immigration and security policies.
Austria’s right-of-centre Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz also lauds Orban and Forza Italia’s leader Silvio Berlusconi calls him a friend.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also congratulated Fidesz, saying “the path of reform is never easy … [but] the support of the majority of society shows that it is worth making this effort”.
Poland’s Law and Justice party has many similarities to Fidesz.
Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic refuse to house Eritrean and Syrian refugees who are confined to overcrowded camps in Italy and Greece, awaiting relocation under an EU quota scheme.
The Hungarian-Serbian border. Picture credit: Wikimedia