Hungarian parliamentary elections are largely being driven by its citizens stances on the future of Hungary relative to the EU, NATO, and Russia.
Victor Orban, who has been Prime Minister of the country for 16 of the last 25 years, is seeking another term, though facing touch challenges from those who question is commitment to Hungary’s security after perceptions of his softness regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some have suggested that his stances have been too moderate towards Russia, despite the fact that one of Russia’s justifications for its invasion was to balance and rebuff NATO crossing the 1991 borders, a line which would leave Hungary squarely within Putin’s sphere of potential invasion.
While he has voted for the sanctions punishing Russia, he has also been careful not to make statements that Putin might perceive as antagonistic, suggesting that even as a member of NATO, that Orban and Hungary are somehow neutral. He has also refused to offer aid to Ukraine, or let troops or materiel pass through Hungary.
This has led Zelenskyy to call him out by name, suggesting that he is making excuses to hold back action from the EU.
Orban’s party has made “peace” its campaign slogan, suggesting that a vote for the opposition may precipitate war. His opponent, Péter Márki-Zay, has made the opposite suggestion: that allowing an expansive Russia under Putin will once again lead to not war, but annexation and the end of their democracy, just as took place in the Soviet invasion of 1956.
The 1955 Warsaw Pact gave diplomatic cover for the USSR to invade the countries of Eastern Europe as they pleased and install puppet governments, which they did after revolutions in Hungary in 1956, at the urging of Mao Zedong, and Czechoslovakia in 1968.
This history was dismissed by Orban, who framed it as unrelated to Hungary, and stating that they should remain neutral claiming, “it doesn’t matter what is right or good.”