East Europe saw yet another right-wing icon strengthening his position as Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban won his third consecutive term in office in elections held on Sunday, April 8. He bounced back in 2010 with a two-thirds majority, a feat he repeated four years later.
Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump's former chief strategist and a darling of the "identitarian" and "alt-right" movements, calls Orban a "hero" and "the most important guy on the scene right now".
Orban will likely seize on the election results as vindication of his clashes with European Union institutions over his hardline anti-immigration policies and rejection of the EU's refugee resettlement programme, as well as his moves to clamp down on civil society groups. State media in Hungary is widely supportive of Oban and opposition voices were sidelined in the runup to Sunday's election.
Orban maintains that he was repairing years of left-wing mess, while his unorthodox economic policies like special "crisis" taxes on foreign companies helped Hungary balance the books.
While Orban's win was undeniable, the exact size of his margin of victory was not clear early Monday due in part to Hungary's complex electoral system, in which voters cast ballots for both an individual candidate in their region and another for a party list.
One of his main campaign promises was to stop the "globalist elite" led by Soros and Brussels undermining Europe's security and Christian culture through mass Muslim immigration. It received 19.2% of the votes, the National Election Office said.
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The sweeping victory will serve as an opportunity for Fidesz to approve the planned "Stop Soros" legislation package targeting civil organisations that are funded by Soros's Open Society Foundations and which deal with migration.
However, there are still internal problems in Hungary, including "corruption, which is very high, and the aggressive, rude and patronizing rhetoric this party [Fidesz] has allowed itself towards the Hungarian people on many occasions", according to Stier.
A keen amateur soccer player, Orban also appeals to many ordinary people with his down-to-earth approach, even though most of his encounters with citizens these days are well-staged and closely guarded events, rather than spontaneous meetings. Nationalist Jobbik won 26 seats, while the Socialists were projected in third with 20 lawmakers. "Because of this, there's no opposition and no alternative", he said. It is telling that the second biggest party in the new parliament will be Jobbik, composed of extreme-right nationalists (lately positioning themselves as a conservative European party).
The overlapping campaigns, which demonized migrants, "blurred the line between state and party", he said.
"The path to reform is never easy", Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki, who has spoken of his dream to "re-Christianize" the European Union, said on Twitter. Even if Fidesz does gain its expected parliamentary majority, analysts will be watching to see whether it falls short of the two-thirds "supermajority" that has enabled it to pass some of its most controversial bills.
In a tweet sent on Monday evening, Harper congratulated Orban for winning "a decisive fourth term" and added that he looked forward to working with the Hungarian prime minister in his role as chairman of the International Democratic Union.