EU far right fetes victory of Hungary’s anti-migrant PM

Viktor Orban has strong allies among European far-right parties

Budapest (AFP) – Far-right parties cheered Monday after Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban handily won re-election, while moderates offered business-like congratulations and rights groups voiced fears over his anti-immigrant stance.

Here are some of the key reactions to Orban’s victory in Sunday’s legislative election, which won him a fourth term in office:

– EU reaches out –

Orban is a fierce critic of the European Union, but the head of its executive commission Jean-Claude Juncker did not hesitate to reach out to him.

A spokesman said Juncker would write to Orban to congratulate him on his “clear victory” and would hold telephone talks with him.

The holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, also appealed for Hungary’s cooperation. “The countries of Europe need dialogue and unity more than ever,” he said.

European Council President Donald Tusk said in an open letter to Orban: “I count on you to play a constructive role in maintaining our unity in the EU.”

– Germany, France: let’s talk –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Orban and called for cooperation on divisive issues, her spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.

“It is clear that our cooperation is subject to controversy, such as our countries’ different positions on migration policy, but the chancellor proposes that we pursue this cooperation, both in a bilateral context and within the European framework and the values that united us,” he said.

Agnes von der Muhll, spokeswoman for the French foreign ministry, said her country and Hungary would “pursue their political dialogue in the service of the European project and its values”.

– Poland: tough job –

For Poland’s rightwing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, standing up to the European Union is a tough job but someone has to do it — and he wished his eurosceptic ally Orban well in that task.

“The road to reform is never easy,” Morawiecki tweeted. “The support of the majority of society shows that it’s worthwhile to make the effort.”

– Hard right: praise –

European hard-right figures lined up to congratulate Orban: French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, Dutch Freedom Party head Geert Wilders, Alternative for Germany’s deputy leader Beatrix von Storch and former UK Independence Party head Nigel Farage.

“The upsetting of values and mass immigration promoted by the EU have again been rejected,” Le Pen wrote on Twitter.

– All business –

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a conservative governing in a coalition with the far right, said in a tweet that Hungary was an “important neighbour and trade partner”, adding: “I look forward to future collaboration.”

Without mentioning EU ties or migration, Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson also congratulated Orban on Twitter.

“We look forward to working with our Hungarian friends to further develop our close partnership,” he said.

– Italy: ‘Ignoring threats’ –

Italian far-right party the League, which is vying for the right to form a government after inconclusive elections, drew encouragement from Orban’s victory, reprising his line against elite Hungarian-born tycoon George Soros.

“Hungary voted with its heart and its head, ignoring threats from Brussels and Soros’s billions… I hope to meet you soon as Italian prime minister,” League leader Matteo Salvini wrote on Facebook.

– Amnesty: ‘hostility’ alert –

Human rights group Amnesty International warned against “attempts to stoke hostility towards refugees and migrants” under Orban.

“We will not be cowed by those who attempt to muzzle Hungary’s critical voices and to create an atmosphere of fear,” its Europe director Gauri van Gulik said.

Monitors from the OSCE economic grouping said Hungarian voters’ ability to make a fully informed choice in the country’s election was impaired by xenophobic rhetoric and media bias.