Not in the past thirty years has an election had so much at stake, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to public radio ahead of Sunday’s ballot.
“The issue of war or peace is pivotal to the country’s future,” the prime minister said in the state media on Friday. “We must prevent Hungary from being dragged into the war.”
“This is not our war. If we want developments we need peace,” Orbán said. He said voters should “feel the gravity of the situation, see the terror of war and the possible affects on Hungary.”
“Let’s stand up for our homeland, protect Hungary, and vote for peace,” he added.
He said the Ukrainian president’s efforts must be taken “with understanding”. “He’s looking out for Ukrainian interests and trying to help his own country, and hopes to get out of a difficult situation by involving others in the war; and I have no dispute with him,” Orbán said.
Orbán said his dispute was with the Hungarian opposition, which, he insisted, wanted to “obey” the Ukrainian president.
He said the war in Ukraine “is not our war; here we cannot win, but we could lose everything.” “The question here is whether or not the economy functions,” he said.
“We condemn the Russian attack, but we cannot help the Ukrainians if we destroy ourselves in the meantime,” Orbán added.
Some countries have shipping and storage capacities allowing them to manage without Russian oil or gas, he said, adding that it is “not a question of putting on a pullover and turning the heating down or paying a few forints more for gas.”
“Rather, Hungary won’t have any energy at all if supplies from Russia are cut,” Orbán said. The Hungarian economy cannot function without those supplies, Orbán said, adding that Hungary could not “turn off cheap Russian energy and buy expensive American energy instead”, which he said was an “absurd” proposal.
“The problem is with the left wing, which has already made its own backroom deal,” the prime minister said. If the opposition won the election, “weapons transports to Ukraine would get under way, and they would cut off oil and gas from Russia, ruining Hungary.” “This is risky, this is dangerous: the left wing is playing with fire,” Orbán said.
(Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition alliance’s candidate for prime minister, has filed a criminal complaint against Péter Szijjártó over the Foreign Minister’s accusations of him being in constant contact with the Ukrainian Government. Márki-Zay said he was taking legal action against the Foreign Minister for scaremongering, as despite Szijjártó’s accusations, he had not held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and would not send Hungarian troops to Ukraine.)
Meanwhile, Orbán said Europe was facing “a serious and deep economic crisis with its roots going deeper than the Russia-Ukraine war”. The European economy has problems with its competitiveness and a shift to new technologies in its attempt to eliminate fossil fuels, he said.
Orbán said energy prices were “not going up by themselves” but as a result of decisions made by Brussels bureaucrats, and the war had amplified those tendencies. It will be an important challenge to the next government to reduce the effect of the economic crisis resulting from high energy prices in Europe, he added.
He said that during times of crisis, the left wing’s reflex was to impose austerity, but the “national side”, he added, applied policies that prioritized economic growth and tax cuts.
Referring to the government-sponsored referendum taking place in parallel with Sunday’s general election, he said the referendum on child protection would “decide our children’s future”.
Hungary can still protect its children and prevent “gender madness” from taking over “if we make it clear with a referendum that the simple fact is: the father is a man, the mother is a woman, and everyone should leave our children alone,” he said.
“This way we can protect our children and the right of parents to [decide about their child’s] sex education,” he said, adding that this was a more important issue those appearing “in the shadow of the war”.
Orbán has also accused the united opposition of handling voters’ data in a way that amounted to “massive election fraud”.
“This is a serious matter,” the president of Fidesz told the state media. He insisted that the opposition partes were unlawfully obtaining the personal data of “hundreds of thousands” and sending them political messages without their consent.
Featured photo illustration by Vivien Cher Benko/PM’s Press Office