Wednesday, December 8

Orban vs Le Pen: Why is the Prime Minister of Hungary meeting with the French far-right leader in Budapest?

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will meet French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Tuesday as the two try to convey their sovereign message.

Orban and Le Pen will host a joint press conference from Budapest at 15:00 CEST.

For Le Pen, this is a highly anticipated meeting, coming a month after Eric Zemmour, a controversial French television commentator who is expected to run in the April 2022 presidential election, made the same trip. He was accompanied by Marion Maréchal, Le Pen’s niece.

Until now, Orban had avoided meeting Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Rassemblement National (RN). But he apparently changed his mind after his party’s departure from the right-wing group European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament in March, following years of criticism over the rule of law in his country.

For Eszter Petronella Soos, a Hungarian political scientist specializing in France, Orban’s priority now is to build an alliance “to the right of the right.”

But “negotiations with Italians and Poles are complicated” and little progress has been made since the publication in July of a “joint statement” between the RN leader and a dozen allies in Europe, including the Hungarian leader.

‘Unacceptable blackmail from the EU’

Unsurprisingly, immigration and sovereignty are expected to be his main talking points on Tuesday.

“For Viktor Orban, this is a winning track,” Soos said. “While he has lost control of the (internal) political agenda due to the recent opposition primaries,” united for the first time to defeat him in the spring 2022 parliamentary elections, “you can reactivate this very useful message. “.

Already on Saturday, during a demonstration that gathered tens of thousands of people in Budapest, he criticized “the European luminaries”.

“Brussels is talking and behaving today with us and with the Poles as is customary with the enemies,” Orban said. The Hungarian leader issued a government resolution earlier this month in support of the Polish Constitutional Court’s decision that parts of the EU law were not compatible with Poland’s constitution and calling on Brussels to respect the sovereignty of the member states.

Marine Le Pen also backed Warsaw against “unacceptable blackmail by the EU” after meeting with the Polish prime minister last week.

He also spoke of “a whole series of political forces” ready to “push for the end of a European Union that has become a succession of threats, blackmail and the ruin of national sovereignties” during a television appearance on Sunday. “I’m working on that, this meeting is fundamental,” he added.

‘Resist the European Union’

However, while there are convergences, resolving the differences will be tricky, analysts say.

Orban, like Le Pen’s potential rival Zemmour, is more liberal on the economic front and more conservative on social values ​​than Le Pen.

Zemmour, Maréchal and Orban appeared to be closer ideologically during their September meeting, speaking of the “great replacement theory” (conspiracy theory of a replacement of the European population by an immigrant population) and criticizing an “LGBT + lobby” . Meanwhile, Le Pen did not participate in the French “Manif pour Tous” protests against same-sex marriage in 2013.

RN spokesman Sébastien Chenu said Monday: “We are not here to give Viktor Orban good or bad points.”

“What interests us is the way Hungary is resisting the European Union, the way it says: ‘We must resist this migratory immersion,'” he added.

Meanwhile, historian Nicolas Lebourg stressed that Zemmour’s current situation in the polls – he’s catching up quickly with Le Pen – shows that she “needs to reinflate her image.”

And she needs to “tell the electorate tempted by Eric Zemmour that in terms of authoritarianism, she also has some stripes,” added the author of an essay entitled “The Far Right in Europe.”

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