After Russia attacked Ukraine, the number of issues that might be problematic for PM Viktor Orbán multiplied. 24.hu collected all the relevant polls, political actions, statements that might be embarrassing for the current government. They concluded that some of these might be dangerous in the April general elections.
According to 24.hu, it is important what the government position was in a given issue before. If there is a contradiction between their past and present stance, the voters might punish the administration. However, Fidesz seems to think the opposite in Hungary. Concerning the change in the government’s migration policy Gábor G. Fodor, one of the government’s chief advisors, for example, said in 2015 that people did not care what Fidesz said about liberalism 12 years before and then. They regard it much more important whether you can protect them from its effects or not.
24.hu believes that this is why the government has been emphasizing safety, calmness, neutrality and peacefulness since the invasion. However, the news website says there was scarcely a similar moment in the last 12 years of the Orbán administration when the government contradicted even late statements. Nobody knows whether that will affect the outcome of the April general elections. Even so, 24.hu collected ten contradictions you can read below
After the Russian invasion, the government emphasized that it was on the side of peace and Hungary must keep out of the conflict. Meanwhile, Orbán was fighting against Brussels, the high utility prices, the migration, George Soros, the IMF, or the European Union in the last decade. Based on a 2018 study, Viktor Orbán started to use military words after 2014. The words ‘battle’, ‘army’, ‘border protection’, ‘shoot’ or ‘achieve’ became more frequent in his speeches.
For example, in 2021 July, he said a bloody conflict awaits Hungary against the EU because of the child protection (anti-LGBTQ) law.
It seems that even PM Orbán did not anticipate the war. Gábor Török, a famous Hungarian political scientist, said that the prime minister did not believe there would be a war during Fidesz-KDNP’s parliamentary group meeting in February. Zsolt Bayer, one of Orbán’s closest journalists obtaining party number 5 in Fidesz, said a couple of days before the outbreak of the war that Russia would not invade Ukraine. Others in the government added that Russia did not want war, only NATO.
Viktor Orbán became famous because of his speech on the reburial of Imre Nagy, the prime minister of the 1956 revolution and freedom fight. He said that the government had to start negotiations about the withdrawal of the Russian army from Hungary. The speech was on 16th June 1989. Then nobody dared to talk about such issues. The troops of the Soviet Union remained in Hungary even during the first years of the democratically elected Antall government. The last Soviet soldier departed the country only on 19th June 1991. What Orbán said in 1989 was very brave.
After the regime change, Fidesz was pro-west and anti-communist. In 2007, Orbán said that the oil comes from the east but the democracy from the west. Moreover, he slammed Ferenc Gyurcsány for negotiating with President Putin then. He even highlighted that Hungary should not become the happiest barrack of the Gazprom.
Everything changed after his landslide victory in 2010. His February meetings with Putin became regular, and he even persuaded his anti-communist voters that Putin’s Russia is not the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Hungary needs to maintain a good relationship with Moscow for economic benefits.
PM Orbán managed to persuade approximately 80% of his voters about Russia, but there is a minority that rejects this policy. Hundreds of thousands regard Orbán’s friendship with Putin as unacceptable. A 2019 survey showed that 44% of Hungarians thought Russia was the country’s Nr1 partner. However, 53% of the responders did not think that situation was ideal. Most people thought Hungary needed stronger ties with Germany and the USA.
Therefore, the Hungarian Prime Minister had to balance between pro and anti-Russian statements not to alienate any of his supporters. According to a recently published poll, a majority of the citizens think that Hungary is too close to Putin.
The Hungarian Government highlighted that Hungary would not send either weapons or soldiers to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Viktor Orbán believes that the West should have supported the Hungarian revolution in 1956 against the Soviet Army. In his speeches, he regularly says that the West failed Hungary. However the question remains: should not Hungary help Ukraine against the invading Russian army? Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said that the two situations differ because the two countries’ geopolitical state is different. He added that the contribution of the Hungarian army in the war would change nothing.
In 2019, the government allowed the Russians to transport weapons to a military base in Serbia. Budapest decided so despite the EU’s ban on Russian arm transport because of the annexation of Crimea. Romania denied allowing the Russian tank transport then, but Hungary gave the green light. Gergely Gulyás said that the military equipment was transported by a civil aircraft, not an army plane, so they did not have to enable it.
The government established a campaign against the migrants coming from the Middle East, even including families, women and children. Now Hungary welcomes everybody from Ukraine. Some say that Budapest follows double standards. However, the government believes they only follow their protocol. Refugees in need, whose first safe country is not Hungary, should return to their previous destination. In the case of Ukraine, Hungary is the first safe country. Therefore, the government helps everybody. However, they do not baulk the refugees to travel to the West.
For example, one of the government-close experts, Georg Spöttle, said that President Zelensky crossed the red line. The Hungarian News Agency used “Russian military action” instead of war for days after the invasion, which resembles the expressions used in the Russian media. That is why the united opposition organised a protest at the doors of the Hungarian public media last Sunday.
PM Orbán said many times beforehand that he did not regard the sanctions against Russia as particularly useful. He also called them a dead end. Even so, the Hungarian government approved them in the EU.
Ukraine approved a language law in 2017 that hindered the use of Hungarian in the country. Kyiv did so even though they promised the opposite to Orbán before. In return, Hungary supported Ukraine to become visa-free in the EU. Only one day after that vote, the Rada approved the language law. After that, the Hungarian government blocked all NATO-Ukraine summits.
Now the government joined the countries urging the EU accession of Ukraine.
Gulyás said about the change that it was about Ukraine’s accession to the EU, not NATO. Furthermore, he added that there was no war against Ukraine endangering its territorial integrity at that time.