Hungary’s ruling Fidesz-KDNP party alliance is calling on the government to launch a new “National Consultation” on European Union sanctions against Russia, Mate Kocsis, the leader of the parliamentary group of governing Fidesz, announced on September 22 after the closed faction meeting of the ruling party.
Kocsis said they are asking the government to conduct a public survey so that Hungarians can have their say on the matter, making them the first in Europe who can express their opinion on the topic.
Kocsis said he expects from the survey that the governing parties will find out what the Hungarians think about the EU sanctions against Russia, and they will be able to refer to the opinions of the Hungarians in upcoming European debates. This is an attempt to put political pressure on the European Union, he added.
The largest opposition party DK said it is pointless to consult on EU sanctions against Russia, which the PM has approved “one by one”.
The national consultation surveys used by the government since 2011 are widely seen as a political and communicational tool to thematise public discourse and show support for the government on a given topic. It is also a way to build up a database of supporters. As the cabinet is spending billions in surveying the public mood, the outcome of the surveys, based on simplified questions, reflects the government’s position. So far 11 such consultations were held, using billions in taxpayer money for what is in effect propaganda for the ruling party.
The war between Ukraine and Russia is no longer a local war, sanctions have turned it into a global economic war, Hungary’s strongman told MPs at the closed fraction meeting on Wednesday. He asked the members of his faction to do everything possible to ensure that Europe withdraws sanctions by the end of the year at the latest.
Orban has also signalled that he will try to oppose an eigth round of EU sanctions against the Kremlin, though up until now, Hungary has gone along with the sanctions, though it won concessions on the crude oil boycott that takes effect in December.
As inflation is reaching a multi-decade high, and the energy crisis is hitting households and businesses, Hungary’s government has ratcheted up its stance against the sanctions against Russia.
Viktor Orban has repeatedly blamed EU sanctions for runaway prices and said that if the sanctions were lifted, energy prices would immediately halve and inflation would fall.
But as analysts had pointed out, Hungary’s inflation had been one of the highest in Europe before the war and the government introduced price caps on fuel and half a dozen food staples before the election.
Orban’s latest move to hold a survey on sanctions is another way of shifting the blame for economic woes following a procyclical and expansive fiscal policy in recent years and a pre-election spending splurge that left the state budget in a difficult position, according to analysts.