The Latest: Jobbik leader resigns from party, lawmaker posts
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Latest on the decisive electoral victory of Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party (all times local):
The leader of Hungary’s right-wing Jobbik party says he is resigning as party chairman and will not take his seat in parliament after a disappointing election.
Gabor Vona said Monday that he took responsibility for Jobbik’s failure to defeat Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party.
Vona’s commitment to shedding the racist and anti-Semitic views previously touted by his nationalist party caused internal conflicts.
While Jobbik will be the largest opposition group in the national assembly following Sunday’s election, Vona had predicted beforehand that the party would emerge as the sure winner.
Instead, Fidesz regained its super-majority and Orban won his third consecutive term.
In a post on Facebook, Vona said the party’s leadership had accepted his resignation and he would not run again.
An international election monitor says that “excessive” spending by the Hungarian government on ads which closely echoed the election campaign of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party and its small ally was unfair to the other parties in the race and “significantly compromised” a fair contest.
Douglas Wake, head of a mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Monday that the overlapping campaigns “blurred the line between state and party.”
Wake noted that state television “clearly favored” the government, with commercial broadcasters also partisan, either for the government or the opposition. He said online media offered better opportunities to deal pluralistically with the issues.
Orban ran on a virulent anti-migration message and Wake said that “hostile and intimidating campaign rhetoric limited the space for substantive debate and diminished voters’ ability to make an informed choice.”
Data from the National Election Office indicates that as more votes come in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party has gained yet another seat in parliament, boosting its super-majority in the legislature.
With nearly 99 percent of the votes counted, Fidesz has 134 of the 199 seats in parliament, one more than needed for a two-thirds majority which allows the ruling coalition to amend the constitution and many other laws requiring a large consensus.
Votes mailed in from abroad are still being counted, so more changes in the distribution of parliamentary mandates are still possible. Those votes were cast mostly by Hungarians from neighboring countries with no permanent address in Hungary and whose path to dual citizenship was greatly streamlined under Orban, as well as those cast in Hungarian diplomatic missions.
The vote Fidesz gained was at the expense of the right-wing nationalist Jobbik party, the largest opposition group.
The head of the European Union’s executive is congratulating Viktor Orban on his party’s overwhelming Hungarian election victory despite the prime minister’s outspoken dislike of several key EU policies.
EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Monday that Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will be calling Orban to discuss joint challenges that Hungary and the EU face.
Orban has been scathing of the EU’s migration policies and often criticized civic society when it disagrees with him, up to the point that many in the EU raise questions whether Hungary can still be seen as a fully functioning Western democracy that respects the rights of minorities.
“The EU is a union of democracies and values. President Juncker and the Commission think that the defense of these values and its principles is a common endeavor of all member states, without exception,” Schinas said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman says the German leader has congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, pledging that Germany will be a “reliable partner” for Budapest, despite differences.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert wouldn’t comment Monday on the tone of Orban’s campaign. He acknowledged differences on issues such as migration, but said Merkel and her government are offering “to advance cooperation further, bilaterally as well as in the framework of our common EU membership and the values that unite us in Europe.”
The opposition Alternative for Germany party, which has assailed Merkel and her 2015 decision to allow in large numbers of migrants, applauded Orban’s re-election.
Its leaders wrote to Orban: “With your steadfast position in the European asylum crisis and your accomplishments in securing the EU’s external borders, you have done an invaluable service to all other European countries.”
Polish officials are welcoming the overwhelming electoral victory of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, with one official in Warsaw calling it a confirmation of Central Europe’s “emancipation policy.”
Both the governments of Poland and Hungary share similar nationalist visions that involve keeping out migrants and handing over fewer powers to the European Union.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wished Orban success on Monday. He wrote on Twitter that the “path of reform is never easy” but that “the support of the majority of society shows it is worth making this effort.”
Meanwhile, Konrad Szymanski, who is the deputy foreign minister and a special envoy to the EU, said the victory of Orban and his Fidesz party confirm the “emancipation policy” of the region.
Capitalizing on its sweeping election victory, Hungary’s governing Fidesz party says it could push through the so-called “Stop Soros” laws targeting civic groups and people aiding refugees already in May.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, elected Sunday to his third consecutive term, based his campaign on demonizing migrants, saying that wealthy philanthropist George Soros, the European Union and the United Nations are conspiring to turn Hungary into an “immigrant country.”
Fidesz parliamentary spokesman Janos Halasz said Monday that the “Stop Soros” package could be among the first legislative measures approved by the new Fidesz super-majority in parliament.
Orban has repeatedly described civic groups supported by Soros, and in general any non-governmental group he disagrees with, as foreign agents working against Hungarian interests.
Among the stipulations of the new law, refugee advocates would need government permission for their activities and would pay a tax on their donations from abroad.
Germany’s conservative interior minister is welcoming Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s “very clear election victory” and warning the European Union against showing arrogance.
Horst Seehofer said he would congratulate Orban on behalf of his Christian Social Union party. As Bavaria’s governor until last month, Seehofer sparred with Chancellor Angela Merkel over her migration policy and invited Orban to gatherings of his party.
German news agency dpa reported that Seehofer warned the EU against a “policy of arrogance and paternalism” and said bilateral ties with EU countries are always important even when there are differences.
He said in Munich that “nothing is stronger confirmation than success at the ballot box.”
Seehofer’s and Merkel’s parties are members of the center-right European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, along with Orban’s Fidesz.
Luxembourg’s foreign minister says Germany, France and others should weigh in against what he calls a “tumor” of scaremongering after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a clear election victory.
Orban won re-election after campaigning on a platform that openly demonized migrants to Europe.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn was quoted Monday as telling German daily Die Welt: “Today it is Hungary and Poland, tomorrow others in eastern and central Europe, even a big founding country of the EU, could develop a taste for undermining values and scaremongering.”
He added that after the Hungarian election “it is up to Germany and France, along with all member states that aren’t counting on indifference, to weigh in unambiguously on the basis of the European treaties to neutralize this tumor of values.”