Fidesz politicians travel to Berlin to secretly mend fences with Christian Democrats

Hungarians who will soon receive a mailed letter from Viktor Orbán attacking Brussels, or who have seen the new anti-Soros and anti-Brussels billboards, which smear fellow Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker, may think that Fidesz is engaged in a clear-cut and “noble” battle with a malevolent foreign power. What Fidesz supporters won’t know is that the ruling regime’s resolve is only ironclad at home, before domestic audiences. In the middle of all the rather “brave” domestic rhetoric, Fidesz politicians Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Zoltán Balog travelled secretly to Berlin with a much more conciliatory message in order to mend fences.

According to a report in Népszava, Mr. Gulyás and Mr. Balog are aware that the conflict with European Christian Democrats, including a move by Swedish conservatives to boot Fidesz from the European People’s Party, is problematic for the Hungarian government. Representing Fidesz, the two politicians met with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and other centre-right politicians. Politicians from both CDU and its sister party from Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, have condemned the Hungarian regime’s most recent propaganda campaign featuring an attack on Mr. Juncker.

The Orbán regime’s newest propaganda campaign.

Hungary’s relationship with the German government is tense. In private, Hungarian government representatives have encouraged bilateral talks, which they label as “structured dialogue” with German conservatives, in order to heal wounds even as Fidesz persists in its anti-EU verbal rampage. However, Népszava reports that Mr. Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel’s successor at the helm of the CDU, no longer believes that it is possible to find common ground with Fidesz and that German’s centre-right therefore should no longer expend much energy on such efforts.

We would be remiss to suggest that Germany’s politicians are finally taking a principled stand on Mr. Orbán. Every indication is that they are doing no such thing. Despite the public expressions of disappointment and even condemnations, Népszava also learned that Germany is prepared to provide funding to Hungarian government-initiated innovations programs. German government politicians, however, have asked Hungary to keep this support confidential until after the EP elections, as it would be unhelpful for the CDU to appear in the EP campaign as assisting the Orbán regime. Népszava reminds us that news of Baden-Württenberg’s leader cancelling his meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó is also a sign that German politicians cannot afford to be seen with Hungarian government politicians due to the overwhelmingly negative reaction in German public opinion.

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