the far right is leading the polls in Austria and Hungary

The latest polls for the European elections illustrate the rise of the far right in Europe, particularly in Hungary and Austria.



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FPÖ President Herbert Kickl during a meeting in Vienna, May 24, 2024. (CHRISTIAN BRUNA / APA-PICTUREDESK)

A few days before the European elections, numerous polls put the National Rally in the lead in France. But several other far-right parties are leading voting intentions, such as the FPÖ in Austria, while in Hungary, Fidesz, Viktor Orban’s party, is leading an aggressive campaign.

In Austria, the far right is reviving

The FPÖ, the Austrian far-right party, is currently credited with 27% of the votes, or 10 points more than the score that the party made during the previous European elections in 2019. However, the vote took place a few days only after Ibizagate, a resounding corruption scandal which concerned the FPÖ and which caused the fall of the coalition between the party and the conservatives.

Since then, the FPÖ has regained many voters and it owes this to its current leader, Herbert Kickl, at the head of the party since 2021. This very secretive man was not destined to become number one, and it is during the Covid-19 pandemic, which he imposed on himself, in particular by becoming the voice of the anti-vaccine movement, very important in Austria.

Unlike other far-right parties in Europe, Herbert Kickl adopts a radical discourse. His strategy is not that of demonization, on the contrary, he makes no secret of his pro-Russian positions, criticizes the European Union whenever he can, has a very virulent anti-immigration speech and calls for “orbanization” of Austria.

He also got closer to the very controversial Austrian identity movement. This strategy of assumed radicalism marks a difference from that defended by his predecessors, but it seems to work.

The party is, however, caught up in business since in April 2024, an investigation for corruption against Herbert Kickl and several FPÖ officials was opened, for facts dating back to their participation in power between 2017 and 2019.

This does not seem to hinder the party’s success, as explained by journalist Robert Treichler, who has just published an investigative biography on Herbert Kickl. “It seems that a camp has once again formed around the FPÖ and we see that scandals or problems, which affect the party, have very little influence on the polls. This seems to show that people have a real need of this party, of Kickl and of this type of politics and that, even if there are scandals, they will stay with them.”

The FPÖ’s result in the European elections will therefore be scrutinized, especially since the legislative elections are scheduled for September in Austria.

In Hungary, Viktor Orban’s virulent campaign

Whether in the city or along the highways, Hungary is flooded with giant billboards, posted by Orban’s party, which has bought practically all the advertising space in the country. We see the Prime Minister’s opponents there, with the slogan “Stop the war!”. On other posters, it is the photo of Viktor Orban which appears, with the word PEACE. The message of Fidsz is that “the opposition is for war, while Viktor Orban is for peace.”

In the numerous media, controlled by his camp, Viktor Orban and his ministers repeat pro-Russian propaganda, saying that America is behind this war, the Hungarian opposition wants to send Hungarians to fight in Ukraine and Ursula Van der Leyen, the President of the Commission, wants to drag Europe into the conflict. All of this is false, but by hammering home this message, we get it into people’s heads.

Although the Prime Minister’s party dominates the campaign, and public television is controlled by the government, it is organizing a debate in view of the European elections, Thursday May 30, 2024. However, each candidate will only have five minutes to present their program.

Klara Dobrev, candidate for a social democratic party, decided to take part, even though she finds it a parody of democracy. “We do not live in a democracy. Orban’s regime is not democratic! National television organizes a so-called debate where the leaders of the opposition parties have a few minutes to give their monologue. I am not calling That’s a debate!” Some independent television stations will also organize debates, but Fidesz refuses to participate.

The opposition can express themselves freely on social networks and the Internet, but here too, it is David against Goliath. Of all the countries in the European Union, the most viewed campaign videos on YouTube are those posted by Viktor Orban’s party. Each has between 8 and 10 million views and Fidesz has spent nearly a million euros on the networks.

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