Speed Reads

the votes are cast

Polls close in Hungary as opposition alliance seeks to unseat Orbán

Hungarian voters cast their ballots on Sunday to determine whether controversial leader Viktor Orbán will serve a fourth consecutive term as prime minister, Reuters reports.

Gergely Gulyás, a minister in Orbán's government, said the high turnout is a victory for democracy and that the early projections he's seen "give cause for optimism," per Euronews.

Orbán has refused to cut his country off from Russian oil and gas and will not allow weapons being sent to Ukrainian forces to be shipped through Hungary. He did, however, condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. "I am standing on the basis of the Hungarian national interests. I am pro-Hungary," Orbán told reporters

The nationalist and socially conservative policies Orbán has pursued during his 12 years in office — including his emphasis on border security, his pro-natalist policies, his bans on things such as gender studies programs and the promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism to children, and his rhetoric about preserving Hungary's Christian heritage —  have made him a popular figure with much of the American right, especially Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who visited Hungary and interviewed Orbán last year.

While campaigning in 2020, President Biden numbered Hungary among the world's "totalitarian regimes" and lumped Orbán in with the "thugs" who lead them.

Conservative Rod Dreher, who has spent time in Hungary, dismissed these labels. "[W]hen I left here late last summer, almost everyone I knew in Fidesz was really anxious about the 2022 election," Dreher wrote for The American Conservative on Friday. "In a true autocracy, leaders don't worry about elections."