While the results of the election were barely revealed, many leaders of foreign countries congratulated the governing parties for the large-scale victory in the elections. The leaders of Central and Eastern Europe congratulated first, which is an indicative gesture. During the night, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic sent a message in Hungarian, and the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs also congratulated among the first ones. The list of leaders who sent congratulations goes on: The Socialist Minister of Energy in Serbia, the Minister of Economics of the Slovakian Social Democratic Government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Government of Montenegro. Current President of the World Economic Forum (former Foreign Minister of Norway) also congratulated. Soon, the governments of Georgia, Kazakhstan and Moldova also expressed their joy and congratulation for the electoral victory of the Hungarian Government parties. – said Péter Szijjártó during his first press conference. Not long after, a message has arrived from Germany too. Angela Merkel kindly congratulated Viktor Orbán for his success at the Hungarian parliamentary elections. In her telegraph the German Chancellor called Germany a trustworthy partner of the Hungarian Prime Minister, “Hungary and Germany are connected by fruitful common history and partnership. Henceforward, you can rely on Germany as a trustworthy partner, when we are working on our bilateral European subjects.” – said the German Chancellor. “I wish you good luck and great strength for your tasks in the future.” – closed Angela Merkel her telegraph. An important letter has arrived from Warsaw. Thus, Poland is the closest and most important ally of the Hungarian Government in the area. The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, in his congratulating letter to Viktor Orbán, emphasized the scale of the victory of the Hungarian governing parties and the significant legitimacy in the society. He called the longstanding friendship and trust as the basis of the cooperation between Hungary and Poland. There is a more important part in the letter in which the Polish Prime minister elaborates that they will be able to shape the future of the region and the whole European Union properly, within the framework of the Visegrad Cooperation. “Our perspectives are obviously in harmony, and that fills me with optimism.” – states the Polish Prime Minister in his letter.
Message from Warsaw, and to Warsaw
Hungary and Poland will have to face similar challenges in the years to come. There are EU sanctions envisaged against both countries. For instance, based on the so-called Article Seven, the voting rights of both countries can be withdrawn- in case of Poland the official proposal has already been launched. The arguments are similar in both cases. According to the analyses in several member states, the basic values of the European Union are violated by the alteration of the judiciary system in Poland, and the new regulations concerning the Non-Governmental Organizations and foreign-based educational institutions in Hungary. As said by the Visegrad countries, their altered way of politics (especially concerning migration) caused revulsion among leaders of the European Union. In this perspective, the legitimacy of the Hungarian Government is an unequivocal message. The Government of Hungary will have the right domestic support for handling any conflict with Brussels. That would be worthwhile for Poland as well. Thus, the Polish governing party’s position is tougher compared to that of the FIDESZ. The Hungarian Government parties are members of the European People’s Party, which is the largest group of the European Parliament. However, the parliamentary group of PiS is much weaker than that, and it will lose the British Conservative Party after the Brexit. Therefore, the possible pressure on Poland’s governing party is much higher, in exchange for the EU’s support concerning the Russian influence on Poland, and that is a critical issue for them. There were visible signs not long before the elections in Hungary too. So, the position of Poland could have been weakened in the debate with the European Union. If the FIDESZ would have weakened during the elections, it would have been a catastrophe for Poland as well, because the sanctions would have been nearly unavoidable. Therefore, Poland has barely any close allies. Though, the Hungarian Government expressed its will to veto any kind of sanctions in the EU against Poland in advance. In case the Hungarian Government would lost its legitimacy, that would cause a weaker position of bargain concerning the issue of sanctions. The Hungarian Government with its vast legitimacy will be easier able to block any possible steps against Poland.
The Munich-Budapest Axis
In case the Hungarian Governing Parties leave the European People's Party, there would be difficulties in the European institutions. Many representatives of the EPP confirmed that, several times. Last time, it happened after victory of these last elections. Exactly few days after the votes, the MEPs in the EPP suggested to exclude FIDESZ from the party, which indicates the scale of the upcoming battles in Brussels. It was initiated by Pascal Arimont, president of the Christian Social Party, which represents the small German community in Belgium. According to the president, Viktor Orbán overstepped his competence many times. However, he admitted that his motion will likely lack the required support within the party. Arimont said that the EPP is divided on this topic. Many members suggest that FIDESZ has to be expelled if the party wants to comply with its basic values. However, the majority believes that the membership of FIDESZ is the only mean to control Viktor Orbán. In the opinion of Mr. Arimont, the EP representatives of FIDESZ are not against Brussels or Europe, at all. Although the cooperation with these representatives is flawless, the rhetoric of their leader is completely different from what they believe in. Yet, the German parties defended FIDESZ so far. The congratulation from Berlin indicates the continuation of this practice. Angela Merkel made it clear: the governing parties of Germany won’t let the FIDESZ go. And the FIDESZ (plus KDNP) simply cannot be expelled without the support of CDU-CSU. Therefore, all efforts in the group are pointless as long as they support FIDESZ.
This is proven by the fact that the allies of Viktor Orbán have been strengthened in Germany. Although the Bavarian CSU lost power at the last elections, they gained strength during the formation of the government. Horst Seehofer is the federal Minister of Home Affairs, who wants to strictly control migration, which is the hardest topic nowadays. Furthermore, there are other members within the German Government who sympathize with the Hungarian Government, which was not typical in the previous Merkel Cabinet.
Several German newspapers dealt with the topic. The Spiegel Online devoted a full article to the relationship of CSU and the Hungarian Government parties. The author of the article wanted to know what is the source of Horst Seehofer’s sympathy with a politician, who represents similar views to the German AfD, which is considered a radical-right party. According to certain members of the CSU, it would be beneficial for the party to “stand close to Orbán”, during the upcoming elections in Bavaria. Additionally, Orbán is an “Anti-Merkel” symbol, and it is cheaper to praise him than judging Chancellor Angela Merkel. Orbán is characterized with his rebellious and outspoken identity, and the CSU wants to identify itself with that image. According to the author of the Spiegel Online, the CSU can safely act on a rebellious way by flirting with Orbán. As said by other experts, the German entrepreneurs would not tolerate the degradation of the relationship between Hungary and Germany, which would be indicated by the expulsion of FIDESZ. Companies like the Audi, Mercedes or Bosch are not only seriously influential in the Hungarian economy, but they are dominant in the German internal affairs.
The year of rebellion goes on
Besides Horst Seehofer, the re-election of Viktor Orbán was appreciated by Metteo Salvini, who is a possible head of government candidate in Italy. Salvini wished good luck for Viktor Orbán, and expressed his hope to meet him as prime minister of Italy. In her tweet, Giorgia Meloni, leader of another right-wing party, the Brothers of Italy, wrote that the Hungarian patriots are celebrating the victory of Viktor Orbán. “Defending our identity, fighting against the forced Islamization, opposing against financial speculation and globalism: The Brothers of Italy wants to follow that model in Italy.” She attached a photo of her and Viktor Orbán, which was taken when Giorgia Meloni visited Budapest, at the end of the Italian election campaign. In March, this Italian party was unexpectedly successful in the elections. The gesture indicates that Viktor Orbán is more than a regular Central European Prime Minister. She believes that Orbán is the leader of the European right-wing. Therefore, his success may give a push to them. 2017 was a contradictory year, in this perspective. Although many people expected the strengthening Trump-effect in Europe, changes have happened in the opposite direction. The liberal and Europe-friendly parties forged ahead in the French and Dutch elections. During the British elections, the conservative party barely won, and the UKIP collapsed. In the second half of the year, however, the go-ahead of the right-wing and anti-immigration forces were visible. The process is indicated by several factors: the victory of Sebastian Kurz in Austria, the victory of Andrej Babis in the Czech Republic, and the advancement of the League in Italy. Kurz, Babis and Salvini are close allies of Viktor Orbán, they get on well with each other. The Financial Times wrote the following in this context: Hungary will define the debate of key importance concerning national identity and the future of Europe, which is the significance of Viktor Orbán’s victory. According to FT’s Adam LeBor, the fact that the European Union has failed to protect its borders is a scar in the “Psyche of the Nation”, just like the events of the summer of 2015 at the Keleti Railway Station. The cultural earthquakes that shaped the “western world” avoided the former Soviet block. The alterations that shaped Western Europe in decades, cannot be placed in a country, in which the society remained deeply conservative, especially in the countryside. That was an unrealistic expectation, as said by LeBor. Roman Joch is the director of the Civil Research Center in Prague. According to him, Viktor Orbán responded on an appropriate and prescient way, at the peak of the migrant‑crisis. Therefore, he defended the Hungarian borders in 2015. Roman Joch pointed out that Viktor Orbán is the “Christian protector of Europe” in this situation. He noted that the Christians are in minority in Hungary and Europe. Therefore, the concept of “Christian Europe” has to be interpreted as the “society based on Jewish and Christian values”. The current Western European elite deals with this heritage carelessly, unlike the majority of the Central European people. The political scientist brought up the example of the differences in the concept of marriage.
The advancement of the right-wing is a sensible trend at he left-wing too, with some concern. There was an article in the Le Monde on this topic. According to Blaise Gauquelin and Philippe Ricard, many people in member states believe that the series of persecutions is only the beginning of the collaboration between extremists in the European Parliament. They might grow strong in the next EP-elections. According to the magazine, Viktor Orbán shows inclination towards them, which used to be uncommon. “He does anything in order to abolish the line between right and far right.” The magazine brought up several examples. In January, he not only visited the conservative Sebastian Kurz, but he met the radical Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache even if it was not part of the protocol. Wilders (Dutch populist) during his visit in Hungary was greeted by Viktor Orbán, instead of the leader of Jobbik. The Hungarian ambassador in Paris, György Károlyi responded in the opinion column of the conservative Le Figaro. He believes that Viktor Orbán’s illiberalism was misinterpreted on purpose. Orbán is a pragmatic and responsible political leader, who is blessed with the vision of the future. He analyzed the situation of his country since the democratic transformation in 1990. Since then, he drew the necessary conclusion.