The friends of Orban: Le Pen and Salvini congratulate Hungary’s prime minister on election victory

‘When the people vote, the people win,’ Marine Le Pen gushed on Twitter

Sofia Barbarani
in Rome
Monday 04 April 2022 16:32 BST
<p>Marine Le Pen </p>

Marine Le Pen

A handful of western European leaders have congratulated Hungary’s nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban on his fourth consecutive win in the country’s parliamentary elections.

Italian far-right League leader Matteo Salvini and France’s anti-immigration Marine Le Pen led the congratulations as some of the European Union’s most contentious figures showed their support for the ultra-conservative leader in Budapest.

The Hungarian secured victory with his Fidesz-led coalition winning some 53 per cent of the vote.

In a jovial message on Twitter, Italy’s Salvini addressed Orban by his first name before showering him with praise.

“Alone against everyone… threatened by those who would like to erase Europe’s Judeo-Christian roots, disparaged by those who would like to eradicate family values, security, merit, development, solidarity, sovereignty, and freedom,” wrote the League leader.

“You have won again this time thanks to what others lack: the love and consent of the people.”

Salvini, a supporter of both Orban and Russian president Vladimir Putin, was swiftly criticised at home, while at the same time keeping quiet on the reported massacre of civilians by Russian troops in Bucha, Ukraine.

Also on Sunday night, French presidential candidate and head of the National Rally party Marine Le Pen congratulated Orban on his win. “When the people vote, the people win!” she wrote on social media.

Le Pen, who is vying for the Elysee Palace in this month’s presidential elections, received a €10.7m (£8.9m) loan during her campaign from Hungary state-owned MKB Bank, according to an online disclosure form.

The first round of the French election takes place on 10 April. Initially written off, opinion polls now appear to show Le Pen’s support growing and she is likely to face President Emmanuel Macron in a run-off for the presidency at the end of the month.

Matteo Salvini, being heckled on a recent trip to Poland

Orban, the head of an EU and Nato member country, has never been one to bite his tongue about his thoughts on Brussels, and most recently on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During his campaign he attacked Brussels, accusing it of “imperialist tantrums” and “pro-immigrant bureaucrats” and in March he announced that arms in support of the Ukrainian military would not be allowed to be shipped through Hungary.

During his victory speech on Sunday, the 58-year-old prime minister referred to Brussels and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky as “opponents”.

The UK said it would continue to have a “robust” relationship with Hungary. Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said he was “not aware of any plans at the moment” for a congratulatory message from the prime minister, but insisted that Hungary was an important partner for the UK.

Joining in the congratulations on Monday was the Kremlin. In a statement it said: “The head of the Russian state expressed confidence that, despite the difficult international situation, the further development of bilateral ties of partnership fully meets the interests of the peoples of Russia and Hungary”.

In another win for Putin, Serbia’s leader Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday claimed a landslide victory in the country’s general elections, despite official results being expected on Monday night.

Vucic, who refuses to impose sanctions on Russia, has been cultivating an alliance with Putin while also trying to join the EU.

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