Hungary’s Orban seeks to stir support with survey questioning EU policies, Ukraine membership

Reading Time: 2 minutes

APEST, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Hungary’s government sent out a survey to its citizens on Friday questioning whether the European Union should allocate more funds to Ukraine or grant it membership, in a move analysts said was an attempt by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to boost support.

Support for Orban’s ruling Fidesz party has fallen by 5 points in the past year, according to an October survey by the liberal think tank Republikon, as Hungary struggles with the EU’s highest inflation rate and an economic slowdown.

Fidesz was still backed by 29% of the electorate, well ahead of its nearest opposition rival on 12%, but Orban will be keen to reverse the decline ahead of European Parliament elections next June.

“A breakaway from the voter base has started (…) this campaign aims to stop that,” Zoltan Novak, a political analyst at the Centre for Fair Political Analysis think tank said. “This is a good tool to shake up their core voters.”

Another survey by pollster Median also showed a 5 point decline in support for Fidesz between February and October.

Orban, in power since 2010, has been at odds with the EU over the bloc freezing Hungary’s access to billions of euros of funds because of concerns about the country’s democratic backsliding during his rule, accusations Orban denies.

The questions in the survey portray the EU as favouring Ukraine over Hungary, one of its own members.

Earlier this week, Orban said the bloc’s strategy of sending money and military aid to Ukraine had failed, and that he opposed starting membership negotiations with Kyiv.

His government has taken a different stance on Ukraine than the rest of the bloc, refraining from providing arms and criticising EU sanctions on Russia, although it has eventually backed all the sanctions so far.

Once you're here...