Viktor’s perilous balancing act

He’s now pitting his close relationship with Putin against the EU, a very risky tactic given Russia’s present predicament.

The epic nationalism and, at times, open defiance of the European Union have become a distinctive trait of the oratorical style of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn, who on 15 March, in a speech following the traditional parade of Hussar soldiers through the streets of Budapest, declared that the “struggle for Hungary’s sovereignty will never end, and in this cause, we have only ourselves to rely on. Our people smile when anyone wants to lecture them on freedom and democracy”.

However, at the 167th anniversary celebrations of the 1848 revolution against the House of Hapsburg, a different breeze was blowing on the banks of the Danube from the one that little more than a year ago reinstated the leader of the Fidesz centre-right party at the country's helm. Because while Orbàn was emphasising that “Europe today is full of questions, and Hungary is full of answers” from the podium and reiterating that “if certain issues are no longer in our own hands, they will end up in the wallets of foreign speculators”, a sizeable portion of the population was walking the city collecting signatures for 15 referendum proposals. 

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