Hungary to poll citizens on support for EU sanctions against Russia

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a news conference on Sept. 16.
(Darko Vojinovic / Associated Press)

Hungary’s governing party says it wants to poll citizens on whether they support European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over its war in Ukraine.

The Fidesz caucus leader, Mate Kocsis, said at a news conference Thursday that the party plans to call for a “national consultation” on energy sanctions that he said had been decided on by the EU’s “Brussels elite.”

“The sanctions are causing harm. They are destroying Europe’s economy,” Kocsis said. “We have to convince European decision-makers, the members of the elite, that they shouldn’t maintain the energy sanctions because big problems will come out of it.”


The “national consultation” would be an informal survey available to every adult in Hungary, which can be returned by mail or filled out online.

Such surveys, issued several times by the governments of autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban since he came to power in 2010, have been criticized by pollsters and opposition parties for using biased and leading questions, and for having no binding legal relevance.

At the news conference, Kocsis acknowledged that the consultation is a “political tool” that the government can use in its debates with the EU over whether to extend or expand sanctions against Russia.

He said the government would decide on the timing of the survey.

Hungary’s government has vocally opposed EU sanctions against Moscow, arguing that they were doing more damage to European economies than to Russia. Budapest has also refused to supply neighboring Ukraine with weapons or to allow their transfer across its border with the embattled country.

Pro-government newspaper Magyar Nemzet on Wednesday reported that Orban — who for years has nurtured a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin — had told a conference of Fidesz members that sanctions against Russia should be scrapped, and that doing so would curb inflation and cut gas prices in half.