Hungary’s prime minister is once again stoking the politics of division ahead of an election

In his victory speech following a third successive election triumph in 2018, Viktor Orbán told jubilant supporters that the result gave voters “the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary”. For over a decade now, Hungary’s prime minister has skilfully galvanised his political base by cultivating a siege mentality. Three years ago, Muslim migrants were depicted as the enemies at the gates, whose entry would undermine Christian values and traditions. Other targets of choice have included George Soros, NGOs and, the Guardian’s recent Pegasus revelations appear to suggest, critical journalists placed under digital surveillance.

A new election requires a new threat. As Hungary emerges from the pandemic, Mr Orbán and his Fidesz party have entered campaigning mode ahead of a spring poll that is expected to be extremely close. Their baleful gaze has alighted on Hungary’s…

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