European Union far-right hails Hungary anti-migrant PM victory

Orban, whose Fidesz Party won an overwhelming mandate in the latest elections, is seen as a populist by the opposition who used his mandate to strengthen the grip on the power and target the platforms that criticise his government's policies.

Nepszabadsag, once the biggest opposition daily, shut down in 2016 after Orban's allies bought it. Widely-read regional newspapers also passed into ownership friendly to Orban's Fidesz party and now often churn out near-identical content on the premier.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Orban and called for cooperation on divisive issues, her spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.

"The reason we submitted this package before the elections is in order to allow the Hungarian voters to cast their vote knowing our intention on this", said Orban. The final result is expected later this month. "On the contrary, Hungary supports a migration policy based on common sense, instead of the open-borders policy of Western Europe, that proved to be unsafe", she added.

Among the measures floated before the election were mandatory registration of some non-governmental organisations that "support illegal immigration" and a 25 percent tax to be imposed on foreign donations that such NGOs collect, as well as restraining orders that preclude activists from approaching the EU's external borders in Hungary.

"How could we have children in this country, where hate and racism are now officially part of the governing party's policy?" she said.

In September, Orban's government erected a fence on the Serbian border to keep them out, and the unrelenting anti-immigration stance has been central to his policies ever since. "Orban is a blessing for the country, and also I think for the whole of Europe". "I think he's just going to push it further and he's not going to be scared off, perhaps, by the increasing tension between... other European countries and Hungary", the MP said.

GETTYThe re-elected leader has became well-known for challenging the European Union agenda
GETTYThe re-elected leader has became well-known for challenging the European Union agenda

"A big and clear victory for Viktor Orban in Hungary: the change of values and the mass immigration extolled by the European Union have again been rejected", French National Front leader Marine Le Pen said in a tweet Monday.

The government spokesman made that very clear during the wait for Sunday's election results.

The Jobbik party, a far-right group that has tried to tame its image over recent years and rebrand itself as an anti-corruption force, came a distant second. But he also deliberately weakened the system of democratic checks and balances, nurturing widespread cronyism, severely limiting media pluralism and putting ample state resources at the disposal of his government.

"Excessive" government spending on ads that closely echoed Orban's re-election campaign was unfair to the other parties in the race and "significantly compromised" a fair contest, said Douglas Wake, head of a mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

OSCE monitors said that "xenophobic rhetoric" and "media bias" in the campaign impaired voters' ability to make a fully informed choice.

At a news conference with global media two days after cruising to his third straight term, Orban said his government had already drawn up a "Stop Soros" package of legislation.

Human rights group Amnesty International warned against "attempts to stoke hostility towards refugees and migrants" under Orban.

  • Jon Douglas