HUNGARY’S hardline prime minister Viktor Orbán has urged voters to send a “strong message” to Brussels in this week’s European elections. Mr Orban’s ruling Fidesz party is polling at 50 percent ahead of the elections but the tough-talking leader is keen to shore up its position both at home and in Europe. His anti-immigration policies and EU-bashing rhetoric have brought the threat of sanctions from Brussels but he hopes a powerful mandate from this election will give him more clout within the bloc’s right wing.
Fidesz swept to power on wave of populism and Mr Orban wants to drive his anti-immigration message home with election success.
He told supporters: “We want change, and a Europe that protects its borders on land and at sea.
“We want to see leaders in Brussels who don’t want to organise migration, but who want to stop it.”
Mr Orbán claimed politicians who took a strong position on border security, such as Donald Trump in the US and Matteo Salvini in Italy, were portrayed has “hate figures”.
His views have seen him fall into conflict with the EU’s centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).
Fidesz has been temporarily suspended from the alliance after a poster campaign denouncing Brussels, alleging links between George Soros and Jean-Claude Juncker and fears that some of policies have led to the erosion of the rule-of-law in Hungary.
But observers suggest Mr Orban has no desire to leave the EPP despite their differences of opinion and hopes to change the group from within by forging alliances between the traditional right and the populist right parties that are gaining traction across the continent.
Hungary goes to the polls on Sunday with the only question being the extent of Mr Orban’s victory and how the results will impact on Brussels.