Orban slams EU on cusp of elections, Hungarian presidency

| 2024-05-27 2 min read

Orban slams EU on cusp of elections, Hungarian presidency

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who recently described the current European Commission (EC) as “the worst one” ever, framed the June 7-9 elections as a decisive moment between peace and the spectre of war looming over Europe, at a large demonstration in Budapest on Saturday, 1 June. Orban called for a decisive victory in the European elections to “occupy Brussels” and reshape the continent’s stance on Ukraine.

As voters throughout the EU-27 set to head to the ballot boxes between June 6 and 9 to choose 720 members of the European Parliament (EP), the leader of Hungary, seen as Russia’s closest ally in the EU, said the EC has turned into a “war council”, and the EP was slowly becoming a “war body”.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Orban said the EU has erred by trying to end the war with sanctions. He added that industry has suffered while the bloc has tried to transition to greener energy. According to Orban, if EU citizens “don’t want farmers to be ruined by these idiotic rules, then those rules should be changed.” 

Despite criticism for his pro-Russian stance, Orban’s Fidesz party remains a dominant force in Hungarian politics. However scandals and economic challenges have provided openings for political challengers like Peter Magyar. Riding on accusations of corruption and advocating for media freedom, Magyar has emerged as a formidable opponent, harnessing discontent to mount a credible challenge to Orban’s dominance.

Hungary will take over the rotating presidency of the EU from Belgium on 1 July, and said in December that Hungary does not intend to leave the EU, but wants to take over its political control. He added that “We need to go deeper, occupy positions, gather allies, and fix the European Union. It’s not enough to be angry; we need to take over Brussels.”  

Hungary will assume the presidency just after the EU elections and immediately before the formation of the new EP, during negotiations on the composition of the new European Commission, and will still be in place when the US election is held in November 2024.