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Viktor Orban criticises Zelensky following Hungary election triumph

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 04/04/2022 Sami Quadri
Viktor Orban © AP Viktor Orban

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has won a fifth term in office after claiming victory in the national elections on Sunday night.

The 58-year-old, who has been branded Vladimir Putin’s sole European ally for refusing to condemn the Ukrainian invasion, said it was a “huge victory” for his right-wing Fidesz party.

In a 10-minute speech to supporters in Budapest, Mr Orban said: “The whole world has seen tonight in Budapest that Christian democratic politics, conservative civic politics and patriotic politics have won. We are telling Europe that this is not the past, this is the future.

“We won a victory so big that you can see it from the moon, and you can certainly see it from Brussels,” added Mr Orban, who has often been condemned by the European Union for overseeing the unravelling of democracy and alleged corruption.

Mr Orban also criticised Volodymyr Zelensky, mocking the Ukrainian president as one of the “opponents” he had to “overpower” during his campaign.

With around 91 per cent of votes tallied, Orban’s Fidesz-led coalition had won 53 per cent, while a pro-European opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had just over 34 per cent, according to the National Election Office.


Video: Viktor Orban claims victory in Hungary election (cbc.ca)

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As Fidesz party officials gathered at an election night event on the Danube river in Budapest, state secretary Zoltan Kovacs pointed to the participation of so many parties in the election as a testament to the strength of Hungary’s democracy.

“We have heard a lot of nonsense recently about whether there is democracy in Hungary,” Kovacs said. “Hungarian democracy in the last 12 years has not weakened, but been strengthened.”

At his final campaign rally on Friday, Mr Orban claimed that supplying Ukraine with weapons — something that Hungary, alone among Ukraine’s EU neighbors, has refused to do — would make the country a military target, and that sanctioning Russian energy imports would cripple Hungary’s own economy.

“This isn’t our war, we have to stay out of it,” Mr Orban said.

Mr Zelensky criticised Orban on Saturday by suggesting he is out of touch with the rest of Europe.

“He is virtually the only one in Europe to openly support Mr Putin,” Mr Zelensky said.

Orban — a fierce critic of immigration, LGBTQ rights and “EU bureaucrats” — has garnered the admiration of right-wing nationalists across Europe and North America. He has taken many of Hungary’s democratic institutions under his control and depicted himself as a defender of European Christendom against Muslim migrants, progressives and the “LGBTQ lobby.”

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