Hungary’s Orban Sees Weakest Support in Decades in EU Vote, Opposition Tisza Surges

REUTERS/Marton Monus
A man wears a T-shirt with an image of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as he waits for the prime minister to speak after the announcement of the partial results of the European Parliament and municipal elections, in Budapest, Hungary, June 9, 2024.

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party was on track for its worst result in a national or EU vote in nearly two decades at Sunday’s European Parliament election, where a political newcomer trounced all other opposition parties.

In power since 2010, the veteran nationalist Orban has grappled with multiple crises over the past months as a sex abuse scandal brought down two of his key allies, just as Hungary was emerging from the worst inflationary surge in the European Union.

Initial results projected Orban’s Fidesz and its small Christian Democrat allies winning 11 seats in the European Parliament with 44.2% of votes, down from a combined 13 seats prior to Sunday’s vote.

The tally showed Peter Magyar’s right-of-center Tisza coming second with seven seats at 30% of votes, more than all other opposition parties combined, and a better outcome than any of the polls leading up to the election forecast.

Speaking to supporters, Orban said the results showed Hungarian democracy was alive and well, declaring victory at Sunday’s elections.

“In a war situation and in a difficult battle, we have scored important victories,” Orban told supporters, adding that the results affirmed his government’s policy course.

Orban has roiled EU and NATO allies by maintaining close business ties with Russia even after its invasion of neighboring Ukraine and by refusing to send weapons to Kyiv.

A political newcomer, Magyar swooped into Hungarian politics earlier this year, promising to root out corruption and revive democratic checks and balances in Hungary, which critics say have been eroded under Orban.

Magyar’s Tisza has capitalized on widespread frustration among voters with Hungary’s opposition parties, who have failed to mount a credible challenge to Orban during his 14-year rule, with the next national election due in 2026.

“This result is the Waterloo of Orban’s factory of power. The beginning of the end,” Magyar told supporters. “What happened is a political landslide.”