Hungary Rallies for Orban Amid Political Turbulence

Tens of thousands of Hungarians marched in Budapest supporting nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban before the European Parliament election. Orban hopes his Fidesz party will benefit from rising far-right support. Despite internal scandals and opposition challenges, Orban stresses preventing Europe from engaging in further conflicts.


Reuters | Updated: 01-06-2024 19:47 IST | Created: 01-06-2024 19:41 IST
Hungary Rallies for Orban Amid Political Turbulence
Viktor Orban

Tens of thousands of Hungarians marched through downtown Budapest on Saturday in support of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces an unexpected challenge from a political newcomer ahead of next week's European Parliament election.

Orban, in power since 2010, hopes his Fidesz party, which is not affiliated with any grouping in the European Parliament (EP), will benefit from a rise in far-right support across Europe as he prepares to take over the European Union's rotating presidency in the second half of the year. Orban has long been at odds with fellow EU members over a range of issues, including refusing to send weapons to Ukraine and maintaining economic ties with Moscow after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in 2022.

The flag-waving crowd, chanting "Hungary-Hungary" and holding banners saying "Give us peace, Lord", marched from Budapest's Chain Bridge alongside the parliament building to Margaret Island, where Orban addressed supporters. "Never before have so many people lined up for peace. We are the biggest peace corps, the largest peacekeeping force in Europe," Orban said.

"Europe must be prevented from rushing into war, into its own destruction. Europe today is preparing for war, with daily announcements of the handing over of a new section of the road to hell," he added. "We are fighting for peace," said Zoltán, 62, who took part in the march. "We have to turn the European Union in a different direction to avoid war ... The rhetoric coming from the direction of France, the United kingdom and Germany clearly wants war, with the help of the U.S."

Midway through his fourth successive term in power, Orban has struggled to contain the fallout from a sex abuse scandal that brought down two of his key political allies, former President Katalin Novak and former Justice Minister Judit Varga. Since then, Fidesz has been in damage control mode, while fending off Peter Magyar, a former government insider, who launched a political movement after delivering incendiary comments about the inner workings of Orban's government.

"The results of the EP and local elections on June 9 will reveal how big Orban's domestic political challenges are and whether Magyar poses a greater threat to Fidesz or other opposition parties," said Andrius Tursa at think tank Teneo. "A disappointing performance by Fidesz would likely force Orban to rethink electoral strategy ahead of the 2026 parliamentary vote."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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