What do Poland’s election results mean for Hungary?


After the election victory of the opposition forces in Poland it remains unclear how the change of government will be put into practice — or whether the defeated PiS will be able to cling to power. Regardless of the outcome in Poland, the defeat of the nationalist-populist forces there is already making waves in Budapest, where Viktor Orbán leads a similar regime. The press of both countries discuss Hungary’s prospects.


Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Potentially the end of the EU blockade

Orbán is losing his most important ally, Rzeczpospolita comments:

“The change of power in Warsaw will have a particular impact when it comes to the procedure under Article 7 of the EU Treaty. This provides that a country that persistently violates the rule of law can be deprived of its voting rights in the EU Council, provided all member states (except the one concerned) are in favour. For many years, however, Poland and Hungary have shielded each other from the punishing hand of the EU headquarters. This could now be coming to an end, despite the fact that the leader of the populist, nationalist Smer party, Robert Fico, is back in power in Slovakia.”

Jędrzej Bielecki
Magyar Narancs (HU) /

Orbán seeking consolation in the East

If Poland returns to the European mainstream, Orbán will be left with only Eastern powers to lean on, Magyar Narancs predicts:

“On 15 October Orbán lost his last strong European ally — his ally in rabble-rousing, national egoism and favouring semi-dictatorial systems ... Orbán is alone. Regarding the question of what place he has in the EU after all this, he may have just found the answer: attending an event organised by the Chinese government celebrating China’s decade of global expansion — and as a highly esteemed guest at the Russian president’s residence in Beijing.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Hungary is not lost yet

Marton Gergely, editor-in-chief of the Hungarian weekly HVG, writes in Gazeta Wyborcza:

“The biggest problem in Hungarian politics is that those who want change don’t believe it can be achieved. The public has become apathetic, trying to play for time and cover up the coming darkness with jokes. The elections in Poland were watched in Budapest as if the Hungarians themselves were going to the polls. It was said that there was no chance of change because propaganda always wins, because hatred is stronger. My compatriots dismissed in advance the idea that Poland could break free of the populism trap. All the more reason for many of us to be glad that the Poles have proven the opposite. ... Because what happens in Poland also reaches Hungary.”

Marton Gergely
Népszava (HU) /

No cosying up to the nationalists

The Hungarian opposition can learn something from the Poles, writes former Socialist politician Ildikó Lendvai in Népszava:

“It would be a sin not to take advantage of the example set by the Polish elections. Even if it cannot be followed automatically. It is worth noting that the Tusk-led opposition did not necessarily hope to attract the regime’s supporters, but to mobilise the hitherto passive victims — especially young people with European ties, city dwellers, people with higher education and women — and unite them in one camp.”

Ildikó Lendvai