Krisztina Than, Reuters, March 15, 2018
Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a huge rally on Thursday that in elections next month Hungarians must fight “external forces and international powers” who want mass immigration into their country.
The 54-year-old, seeking a third consecutive term and campaigning on an anti-immigration agenda, said the April 8 vote was the “greatest battle” faced so far by the tens of thousands of his supporters waving national flags in front of parliament.
Many of the million irregular migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who trekked across southeast Europe in 2015 passed through Hungary. It has responded with a border fence and strong opposition to EU proposals to settle migrants in member status under a quota system.
“Those who do not stop immigration at their borders will be lost,” Orban said.
Orban’s supporters were joined by thousands of supporters of Poland’s ruling conservative PiS party — another administration at odds with Brussels over migration and over Warsaw’s efforts to tighten controls over courts and media.
Orban said Hungarian opposition parties were backed by a network which included media financed by foreign companies, domestic oligarchs and NGOs funded by international speculators.
Supporters of Orban’s Fidesz party carried banners with the slogans “Hungary protects Europe” and “We are with you Viktor”.
Organizers brought people into the capital from the countryside in fleets of buses for the rally and march, which coincided with a national holiday commemorating Hungary’s 1848 revolution.
Orban’s party suffered an unexpected setback in a recent municipal by-election, but remains well ahead of its rivals in opinion polls despite media reports that revealed the luxurious lifestyles of some Fidesz politicians and a murky investment deal involving one this week.
Jobbik, a former far-right party which now positions itself more toward the center, is the strongest opposition party and bitterly critical of Orban.