Orban and Different Aromas of the Far Right

Izzet Enünlü

Izzet Enünlü



Orban and Different Aromas of the Far Right

Viktor Orban / Shutterstock

On Sunday (30 June), Austrian far-right leader, Herbert Kickl (FPÖ), Hungarian nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán (Fidesz), and main Czech opposition party leader populist Andrej Babiš (ANO) announced the formation of a new political alliance in the European Parliament “Patriots for Europe”. On Monday, (July 1), Hungary took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six-months  and the next day (July 2), Viktor Orbán made his first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale war began.


Kickl and Orbán are known to be pro-Russian and Babiš was declared as “a security threat” for Czechia by the Czech foreign minister because of his pacifist rhetoric on the Russian-Ukrainian war. Patriots for Europe is not yet a group because it fulfils the required minimum 23 MEPs but the MEPs need to come from at least seven different Member States.

According to Orban, Italian right-wing populist Lega party is interested in the formation. Its leader, Italy's deputy premier Matteo Salvini is also pro-russian who said that Russians voting for Putin must be accepted and also said that Macron 'represents a danger' for Europe by refusing to rule out sending Western ground troops to Ukraine.  

It can be also expected that Slovak prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) who is also pro-russian and vowed to end Slovakia’s military support for Ukraine may join the alliance. Moreover Portugal’s right-wing populist party Chega is considering joining "Patriots for Europe". If Poland's Law and Justice party (PiS) is also convinced to leave the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, the new coalition may form a group in the European Parliament.

According to Orban, “patriotic manifesto” promises “peace, security and development” instead of the “war, migration and stagnation” brought by the “Brussels elite”. So it should not be astonishing that Orban asked Zelensky on his surprising visit to consider a ceasefire to accelerate an end to the war with Russia.

Orban needs to hurry for group formation in the EU Parliament because the deadline is on Thursday (4 July). European Parliament elections were considered a huge failure for Orban, even though his party Fidesz and its smaller allies scored 44.6 percent winning 11 MEPs seats. The Patriots for Europe coalition is formed by like minded nationalist and Eurosceptic parties. The other far right parties like Giorgia Meloni’s Italian Brothers (FdI) and Le Pen’s Rassemblement National are more pro-EU and less sovereignist. They may opt not to join Orban's new bloc.  

Orban may gain some extra time because there is a request for the deadline extension to 8 July by some national delegations. Nonetheless the size of the groups is very important in having access to important positions within the structure of the Parliament.

Maintaining close ties with Russia, delaying  ratification of Sweden’s Nato membership and blocking the EU aid to Ukraine increasingly isolated Orban. Even Giorgia Meloni, who endorses unconditional support for Kyiv  and  is the President of the ECR, barred Orban from joining the group because of his attitude towards Ukraine.

To form a large group, to break his isolation in the EU and to perform more efficiently as the president of the EU commission, Orban needs to amend his image. To achieve this he needs to improve his relations with Kyiv at least in appearance. This may be the reason for the rushed visit to Ukraine.

photo: president.gov.ua

During his visit he also expressed his willingness to take part in the modernization of Ukraine’s economy. Post-war reconstruction of Ukraine is estimated to cost $486 billion and many countries hope to benefit  from it. Undoubtedly as soon as peace comes as soon the dreams of profit materialise.  

President Zelensky spoke before Orban and did not comment about the cease-fire in the press conference. Later it was reported that he listened to Orban, but stated Ukraine's position and dismissed the proposition.

Fortunately for Ukraine the presidency of the Council of the European Union does not hold any real power except setting the agenda of the Council and it will rotate to another member country in six months. Moreover important decisions like  adopting a fresh sanction package against Russia and formally launching accession talks with Ukraine were already taken during the presidency of Belgium.

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