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Secure in Hungary, Orban Readies for Battle with Brussels

May 10, 2018

“We need the union; the union needs us,” Mr. Orban acknowledged. “We are ready to be reformers in the changes that the E.U. can’t avoid.”

In a reflection of his dominance domestically, he said nothing about his party’s legislative agenda.

“In 2014, the message was ‘Anything can happen,’ ” said Edit Zgut, an analyst at Political Capital, a research organization based in Budapest. “Now the message is ‘I can do what I want.’ ”

Secure in Hungary, Orban Readies for Battle with BrusselsSecure in Hungary, Orban Readies for Battle with Brussels

Stefano Bottoni, a senior fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the author of “Long Awaited West: Eastern Europe since 1944,” said that Mr. Orban, having secured his position in Hungary, wanted to play on a larger stage.

“He wants to represent and give voice to a sovereign Europe, a European Union of nation-states,” Mr. Bottoni said.

In order to do that, he must remain part of the European People’s Party, the continental alliance of center-right parties, and influence it from within. There are already signs that he is adjusting his rhetoric, if not his agenda.

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