Orbán and Fico Close Ranks to Defend Their Authoritarian, Pro-Russia Course

Democratic Security Outlook 2024: 22 January - 28 January 

22 January 2024

With nationalist Eurosceptics out of power in Poland, Hungary’s leader Viktor Orbán found in his Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, a new ally to thwart any attempt to strip his country of voting rights in the EU over his defiance of common values and aid to Ukraine.

Upcoming on Visegrad Insight:

  • Albin Sybera examines how Slovak PM Fico’s aggressive power grab can affect the upcoming presidential elections.
  • Oksana Forostyna explores how the mood in Ukraine is grimmer than it was at the beginning of 2023 but not as bad as it is often portrayed.

EU/REGIONAL

  • Hundreds of thousands of Germans held rallies to demand the de-legalisation of Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), an extreme right party which had surged in opinion polls, especially in the former communist east. The protests to “defend democracy” were spurred by a report that the party discussed the removal of foreign migrants at a secret meeting with neo-Nazi ideologues.
  • The scandal and protests could dash AfD’s hopes of a convincing success in European elections in June. The party has overtaken the Social Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz in opinion polls, with the opposition Christian Democrats in pole position.
  • In a sign that Christian Democrats and mainstream conservatives across Europe are trying to blunt the far right’s appeal, the European People’s Party adopted an election platform that puts migration as the top priority.
  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made herself available to run for a second term by declaring the Commission would soon present a blueprint for institutional reforms to streamline the bloc’s decision-making process before it accepts new members.
  • “This House has already put forward bold ideas for a reform of our treaties,” von der Leyen told the European Parliament. “Next month, the Commission will set out our ideas in a communication to the European Parliament and the Council, ahead of the leaders’ discussion organised by the Belgian [Council] presidency.”
  • Supporters of treaty changes hope to convince opponents, such as the Nordic and CEE countries, by linking the issue of expanded majority voting and stronger rule of law mechanisms to enlargement, which most of those countries support.
  • Von der Leyen met Chinese Prime Minister Li to discuss the EU’s worries about unfair trading practices by Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers.
  • NATO is starting a drill involving 90,000 troops as Western leaders increasingly speak of the need to prepare for a possible Russian attack on a member country in the next few years.
  • France and Italy are seeking ways to involve regional powers in Red Sea policing along with Western forces.

Biden urges Congress to finally pass Ukraine aid 

UKRAINE

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