Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images
Two far-right political leaders friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin have won re-election in Europe even as Moscow’s largely unpopular war in Ukraine drags on.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban easily won a victory against a coalition of political opponents from left and right, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic won a second term with 60% of the vote.
Although much of the European Union and the world has condemned Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine, the two victories suggest that some Europeans still support nationalist leaders with close ties to the Kremlin.
Orban, who called for peace in Ukraine, also used his victory speech to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky an “opponent” of Hungary. European leaders have criticized Hungary for trying to walk the tightrope of neutrality over the war.
During his 12 years in power, Orban has often clashed with the EU over what critics have called his increasingly undemocratic tendencies, such as gaining influence over the mainstream media inherited from Hungary and suppressing the country’s LGBTQ population.
“Orban has forged ties with autocrats, like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, while rejecting the liberal democratic principles of the West,” NPR’s Rob Schmitz said on All Things Considered last week.
Orban’s Fidesz party won 135 seats in Hungary’s 199-member parliament, against an expected 56 seats for the opposition.
In Serbia, Vucic bragged about his personal ties to Putin, the Associated Press reported. The populist leader also refused to condemn Russia or impose sanctions on the country following its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the outlet said.
Meanwhile, French voters heading to the polls on Sunday will see far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour on the ballot. Zemmour, who was found guilty of using hate speech at least three times, has previously expressed support for Russia, although he condemned its invasion of Ukraine.