After historic elections in Germany on Sunday, statements from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and from numerous opposition parties have largely been congratulatory of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s victory for a fourth consecutive term in power.
Orbán posted an ambiguous message of congratulations to his Facebook page late Sunday:
His words were not directed at any party or individual specifically, leading some in the Hungarian media to speculate on whether Orbán was in fact expressing his pleasure at the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gaining seats in parliament for the first time in its history.
But Orbán said in a radio interview on Friday that “we’re saying a quiet prayer for the extension of the current chancellor’s mandate, because among the available possibilities, from a Hungarian perspective it is in our interests.”
However, Orbán and other Fidesz government officials have been critical of Merkel’s response to the immigration crisis which hit Europe in 2015, and Merkel has openly criticized Hungary for its rejection of the EU’s asylum-seeker resettlement quota, saying “there is a government that says it is indifferent to the decision of the European Court of Justice, and that is unacceptable.” Fidesz and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union are in the same European Parliament group, the European People’s Party.
Germany’s elections on Sunday saw the governing Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) coalition, headed by Merkel, show its worst performance since 1949. While Merkel will remain chancellor and head of her coalition, her party’s dramatic loss of support (down nearly 9 percentage points) was accompanied by a sharp increase for the right-wing populist party AfD. The anti-immigration party now has seats in parliament for the first time in its history, and will be the third-largest party in the Bundestag.
Not wanting AfD to be the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD) under Martin Schulz, which came in second in the elections but with lower support than ever in its history, will decline to remain Merkel’s junior coalition partner and will go into opposition. Thus Merkel, in order to form a majority government, will reportedly seek to form a coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP).
Hungarian parties react
Hungarian opposition parties issued statements on the results.
The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) said it “congratulates German Chancellor Angela Merkel for protecting her leading position in Sunday’s election. Angela Merkel was able – for the fourth time – to win the elections as a person who is committed to a united, strong and democratic Europe. MSZP also congratulates our sister party, the SPD, on its good standing, for which it came in second place. The German government and opposition will once again have the kinds of leaders that are openly critical of Viktor Orbán and Fidesz’s anti-democratic, anti-European policies.”
Democratic Coalition (DK) chair and former Socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány wrote, “Merkel won. With this, Orbán’s dreams of a great rebellion were shattered. France and Germany want a stronger European cooperation. The Hungarian government is on the dramatically opposite path. Sooner or later this tension will be unbearable. Hungary is at a crossroads: Orbán or Europe.”
Szél Bernadett, co-chair of Hungary’s green party Politics Can Be Different (LMP), congratulated the German Greens on their result (9.1 percent of the vote). “Our sister party achieved a sensational result in today’s parliamentary elections,” Szél wrote. “They are expected to be coalition partners in the new German federal government. Wherever greens are in government, everyday life is more livable, the economy is stronger and a better life awaits our children. Congratulations, keep it up!”