BUDAPEST; Viktor Orban, Europe’s hard-liner on immigration, is set to win a third straight term in elections on Sunday after a campaign in which he has positioned himself as a saviour of Hungary’s Christian values and culture from a flood of Muslim migrants.
An emphatic victory could embolden Orban, Hungary’s longest serving post-communist prime minister, to solidify a Central European alliance against the European Union’s migration policies, and against a deeper integration of the bloc which he opposes.
It would also give a boost to other rightwing nationalists in Central Europe, in Poland and in neighbouring Austria, and expose cracks in the EU bloc.
Orban’s Fidesz party leads all opinion polls and, with a firm grip on the media, dominates the public agenda. All polls predict a win for him on Sunday though something short of the landslides of the 2010 and 2014 elections. (Graphics on ‘Hungarian election’ – https://tmsnrt.rs/2GZHvcB)
There is also a slight chance that the fragmented opposition, with former far-right Jobbik as the main challenger, could upset a smooth victory and strip Fidesz of its parliament majority.
“It will be a big fight, a tough game and we will fight to the last minute,” Orban told daily tabloid Ripost on Friday.
Businessmen close to Fidesz and Orban have acquired stakes in major industries like banking, energy, construction, and tourism, enriching themselves on EU funds.
At the same time, Orban has clashed with Brussels over his policies and ruled out taking part in any EU-wide mechanism to settle migrants from the Middle East in Hungary, saying the Christian country, which has no history of large-scale immigration, should preserve its “ethnic homogeneity.”
“Forces are appearing, the likes of which the world has not seen for a long time. In Africa there will be ten times as many young people as in Europe. If Europe does nothing they will kick down the door on us,” Orban said in a speech on March 15.
Professor Hendrik Hansen, an expert on international and European politics at Budapest’s Andrassy University said if Orban wins a strong mandate that “would give strength to the Visegrad countries with respect to any alliance concerning migration policy.”