Parliamentary elections were held in Hungary and presidential elections in Serbia. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbian leader Alexander Vucic, as predicted by opinion polls, maintained their positions. And this plays a significant role for Russia in the face of strong international pressure. We learned how the successful candidates, who are often accused of being pro-Russian, succeeded and how the election results would affect the pan-European political climate.
Hungary’s ruling Fidesz-Hungarian Civil Union party has strengthened its position following Sunday’s vote. In the State Assembly (the country’s unicameral parliament), she won 139 seats out of 199. Four years ago, the conservative Fidesz, which still ran in coalition with the Christian Democratic People’s Party, won 133 parliamentary seats.
The fourth victory in a row (after 2010, 2014 and 2018) automatically left the post of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who had previously announced his renunciation of presidential ambitions. Given that Hungary – parliamentary republic, such a step seemed quite logical on his part, because it is the head of government assigned a leading role.
In Orban’s domestic political agenda, Orban’s party members have not radically departed from their theses of past campaigns, focusing on the creation of a “labor state” and the continued rejection of a number of liberal assumptions, such as allowing abortions or homosexual marriages. The key provisions were enshrined in the Fidesz constitution, which came into force 10 years ago. But if then it was a matter of serious concern to Hungary’s EU partners, today it is more important to them than Budapest’s foreign policy, which also often does not live up to Brussels’ expectations. But – finds an obvious response in the electoral environment.
These include the refusal to accept refugees en masse (this problem was a stumbling block between the Hungarian authorities and the EU leadership at the height of the Syrian crisis), as well as maintaining pragmatic relations with Russia without unequivocal support for sanctions against it.
Orban did not hesitate to add effectiveness to his election theses: in his post-election speech on the victory of Fidesz, the prime minister said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was one of those opponents (along with local and foreign leftists, Soros Empire money, Brussels bureaucrats and international Media), which had to fight the ruling party of Hungary on the road to a difficult victory. If this rhetoric is unprincipled for Kyiv, because it is not new in its essence, then for Moscow in the current conditions it is a clear signal.
Western analysts note that Orban’s next victory raises concerns between NATO and the EU over Budapest’s attitude toward Russia over the Ukrainian crisis: whether Hungary will remain a reliable partner. And while the Hungarian prime minister has so far not tried to block Western sanctions in response to Russia’s operation in Ukraine, he has made it clear that he does not want to consider measures to ban energy supplies from Russia. It is also worth remembering that Orban caused dissatisfaction on the part of the North Atlantic allies and Zelensky by his refusal to allow the supply of weapons to Ukraine through Hungarian territory.
In his “victory speech”, re-elected Serbian President Alexander Vucic also mentioned maintaining friendly and partnership relations with Russia. According to him, Belgrade will continue friendly and partnership contacts with Moscow, and, in particular, will not “throw Dostoevsky out of schools and Tchaikovsky out of the opera” – an unequivocal “pin” to Western countries, which in the context of political confrontation with the Kremlin on Russian cultural heritage.
Unlike Orban, Vucic is less dependent on the course of the “collective West”: Serbia does not belong to the EU and NATO, the process of its accession to the European Union, which began in 2005, has dragged on so long that there is mixed publicity. . According to local analysts, Brussels’ apparent obsession with possible membership in Ukraine is demotivating Serbs rather than adding hope for their own country’s accession to the “European House” soon.
The economic aspect is also important: neither Hungary nor Serbia has their own significant energy resources, so the oil and gas war unleashed by the United States and the European Union (or, if you like, imposed by the EU on Washington) is completely unprofitable for them. At least, without guarantees of privileges from European partners. So far, such are not visible in the future.
On the Russian side, if we look back even at recent events, even before the special operation, Belgrade sees a completely different attitude: suffice it to recall Vucic’s account of the happy jumps of the head of Serbiagas in November last year after approval of gas prices from Russia. Moreover, Serbia is interested not only in supplying Russian “blue fuel” to itself, but also in receiving revenues from its transit.
As for Budapest, no later than the autumn of 2021, a new gas contract with Moscow was signed for a period of 15 years. It is noteworthy that then the news provoked an extremely sharp reaction from Kiev – in the Ukrainian press Orban was accused of agreeing to play the role of “hybrid weapon” of the Russian Federation. It is not surprising why the Hungarian prime minister, who did not give up his gas plans, now directly ranked Zelensky among Fidesz’s opponents (and probably his personal enemies).
At the same time, as Oleg Nemensky, a leading expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), told MK, the degree of “pro-Russian” orientation attributed to Vucic and Orban should not be exaggerated.
“Rather, both leaders are not radically anti-Russian, as almost all European leaders are now required to be,” the analyst said. – And this refusal of Vucic and Orban from the categorical line of confrontation, their desire to maintain constructive and mutually beneficial relations with Russia – as far as possible in the current situation – cause a scandalous effect in Western politics. In this context, against the background of general Russophobic hysteria, they seem pro-Russian. “
According to Oleg Nemensky, for Moscow the victory of the Hungarian and Serbian leaders is important because in Europe there will continue to be voices alternative to the common course – “those who call for calm and balanced and, one might say, just calculated relations with Russia, without emotional assessments at the political level; the fact that such a position is maintained is very significant. ” At the same time, the Russian Federation, the expert notes, in general, expects from Europe not some frankly pro-Russian line, namely the presence of constructiveness and an unbiased approach in bilateral relations.
“However, it cannot be said that there is no common position in the Western community on the Russian side. There are some politicians, like Vucic or Orban. But in any case, such figures are being obstructed in the political establishment in the West, and the exceptions do not disrupt the unity of the course, being simply a scandalous element on its sidelines. Given that Serbia is not a member of the EU or NATO, the problem is more relevant for Hungary. Unfortunately, the same Orban is not yet able to seriously change not only the general atmosphere in the Western community, but also the structure of their own interests. They are to meet the political demands coming from Washington, and the United States is known to be openly anti-Russian, “Oleg Nemensky concluded.