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Orbán government takes victory lap, despite party’s worst-ever performance in EU parliament race

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The day after Hungarians voted in the European Parliament elections, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government declared a big win, but missing from the victory speeches was an acknowledgement that it was his party’s worst performance in an EU election since Hungary joined the bloc 20 years ago.

The lackluster showing can largely be attributed to the emergence of a new political force in Hungary — Péter Magyar, a former insider in Orbán’s Fidesz-KDNP coalition, who broke with the party and declared his intention to build a popular movement to defeat Orbán and sweep away his autocratic system.

Eleven of Hungary’s 21 delegates to the EU’s legislature will come from Fidesz — more than any of its domestic competitors. After tallying 44% of Sunday’s vote, the government said the result clearly signals overwhelming support for Orbán’s hard-right nationalism.

GERMANY’S CONSERVATIVES FINISH FIRST IN EU ELECTION, AS FAR-RIGHT MOMENTUM SENDS FRANCE’S LEADER SCRAMBLING

«Never before have so many people, 2.015 million, voted for Fidesz-KDNP in an EP election,» spokesman Zoltán Kovács wrote Monday on the social media platform X. «The message is clear: Hungarians say no to war, migration, and gender ideology.»

Nonetheless, Fidesz has never performed so poorly in a European Union election since it joined in 2004. Votes for the party were down sharply from its 52% support in the 2019 polls, and it lost two of its European Parliament seats.

András Bíró-Nagy, an analyst and director of the Budapest-based think tank Policy Solutions, said the power of Orbán — who returned to office in 2010 — has never been more at risk.

«We are in an unknown territory because previously it was not imaginable that a single political party could mount a serious challenge to Viktor Orbán,» Bíró-Nagy said.

FILE – Viktor Orbán waves after his annual state of the nation speech in Varkert Bazaar conference hall of Budapest, Hungary, Feb. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi, File)

Magyar’s new party, Respect and Freedom (TISZA), won nearly 30% of the vote on Sunday, earning seven delegates in the EU legislature. He has said the election would propel his movement into a stronger position to challenge and defeat Orbán in the next national ballot, scheduled for 2026.

Late Sunday, thousands of Magyar’s supporters gathered next to the Danube River to await the election results. Addressing the jubilant crowd, Magyar said his party’s performance was a «political landslide» that would usher in a new era of «useful, fair and, especially, honest» governance.

«Today marks the end of an era,» Magyar said. «This is the Waterloo of Orbán’s factory of power, the beginning of the end,» he said, referring to the battle that ended the Napoleonic Wars.

Magyar campaigned less on a specific party program than a structural critique of Orbán’s system, which he characterized as rife with corruption, nepotism, intimidation and propaganda.

He derided the condition of Hungary’s education and health care systems, accused Fidesz of creating a class of oligarchs enriched with lucrative public contracts, and vowed to form a more constructive relationship with the EU.

Hungary’s traditional opposition parties, through pressure from Orbán’s government and their own fractiousness and infighting, have been unable to mount a serious challenge to Fidesz in the past 14 years.

«The Péter Magyar phenomenon is the symptom of a deep crisis in Hungarian politics,» said Bíró-Nagy. «This reflects not only some disillusionment with the Orbán regime, but it shows the complete disillusionment with the established opposition.»

«Many people in Hungary are craving for something new, are craving for change, and they are willing to support basically anybody who shows potentially some strength against the Orbán regime,» he said.

Magyar’s rise followed a series of scandals that rocked Orbán’s government and prompted the resignation of the president and justice minister. A deep economic crisis, compounded by the highest inflation in the 27-member EU, also led to a drop in popularity for the bloc’s longest-serving leader.

Meanwhile, the EU has frozen more than 20 billion euros ($21.5 billion) to Hungary over its violations of rule-of-law and democracy standards, and Orbán’s friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin have pushed him further into the margins from his EU and NATO allies.

Ahead of the elections, the five-time prime minister campaigned on an anti-EU platform, and cast the ballot as a contest that would decide whether Russia’s war in Ukraine would engulf Europe.

He relied heavily on culturally divisive issues such as migration, LGBTQ+ rights and fears that the war could escalate to involve Hungary directly if his political opponents were successful.

But Fidesz’s weakened position suggests Orbán’s hopes that the EU election would consolidate euroskeptic parties and deliver him a bigger role on Europe’s far-right have likely been dashed.

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«Orbán has already taken the place of the radical right in Hungarian politics,» Bíró-Nagy said. «But the breakthrough that Viktor Orbán was hoping for didn’t materialize at the European level.»


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Hezbollah bigger challenge than Hamas to Israel: ‘Crown jewel in the Iranian empire of terror’

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JERUSALEM — With Israel on the verge of a third full-blown war against Hezbollah because of the Lebanese organization’s constant firing of deadly missiles, drones and rockets, the differences and similarities between Hezbollah and Hamas are now under the microscope. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran finances the Mideast terrorist movements Hamas and Hezbollah, who have declared war on Israel and who are also responsible for committing numerous terrorist attacks against American civilians and military service personnel.

Fox News Digital contacted experts for a tale-of-the-tape analysis on Hamas, which is situated in the southern Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah, which is the de facto ruler of the Lebanese state on Israel’s northern border. Israel has fought two wars against Hezbollah, in 1982 and in 2006.

«Hezbollah is the crown jewel in the Iranian empire of terror and evil and is by far the most powerful Iranian proxy equipped with nation state capabilities and even with more firepower than several European militaries have today,» Jonathan Conricus, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former IDF spokesman told Fox News Digital.

HEZBOLLAH TERRORISTS LAUNCH MASSIVE ROCKET ATTACK ON ISRAEL AMID MOUNTING TENSIONS

In this Feb. 13, 2016, file photo, Hezbollah fighters hold flags as they attend the memorial for slain leader Sheik Abbas al-Mousawi, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in 1992, in Tefahta village, south Lebanon. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, File)

Despite widespread poverty and economic instability in Iran, the Islamic Republic is also a generous funding source of Hezbollah, providing the Lebanese terrorist organization with over $700 million a year, according to the Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. State Department. Joint military cooperation between Iran’s regime and Hezbollah has been a longstanding feature in Lebanon, Syria and throughout Europe with respect to terrorism and war planning.

«In a military comparison, Hezbollah is far more powerful than Hamas across the board in every military metric. In terms of the amount of rockets they have, the range, the accuracy or the payload or size of the warhead, also in terms of the amount of personnel, armed fighters, their training and their equipment,» Conricus added.

Israeli artillery

Israeli soldiers fire a mobile howitzer in the north of Israel, near the border with Lebanon Jan. 15, 2024.  (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Hezbollah has amassed a massive arsenal of an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles that are aimed at the Jewish state. The IDF has degraded Hamas’ supply of 20,000 rockets and missiles since the start of the war. However, Hamas was capable of launching eight rockets from the city of Rafah into Israel two weeks ago. Fox News Digital reported last week that Hezbollah launched over 200 missiles, rockets and drones into Israel.

The economics of Hamas and Hezbollah have similarities and differences in the scope of funding and military training from Tehran.  

«Hezbollah and Hamas are both terror organizations funded mainly by Iran. Hezbollah’s loyalty is only to Iran. Hamas is for everyone who helps it,» said Edy Cohen, a Lebanese-born Israeli scholar of Hezbollah.

HEZBOLLAH BOMBARDS ISRAEL WITH ROCKETS, DRONES

Hezbollah terrorists training.

Hezbollah terrorist organization’s Radwan forces in training video. (Memri.org)

Cohen, a researcher at the Eitan, the Israeli Center for Grand Strategy, said «Hamas is under a sea blockage and cannot fly to other countries and cannot receive goods or arms easily. Hezbollah can.»

The number of terrorists fighting for both organizations varies. The IDF has reduced Hamas’ terrorist force by nearly 50% since the start of the war to between 9,000 and 12,000 combatants.

«Under the guidance of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the group boasts a troop strength of 20,000 to 25,000 full-time fighters, with additional tens of thousands in reserves,» the IDF wrote on its website. «Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Unit is particularly noted for its combat proficiency and strategic importance in conflicts across the region. This particular unit … was established with assistance from Iran’s Quds force.»

Walid Phares, co-president of #EducateAmerica and a professor of Middle East Studies, told Fox News Digital the first principal difference between Hamas and Hezbollah is «Hamas comes from the Muslim Brotherhood organizationally and ideologically, so it is a Sunni extremist group, a chapter of Ikhwan among many chapters in the region.» 

Ikhwan is an Arabic word for the Muslim Brotherhood.

A Palestinian fighter from the armed wing of Hamas takes part in a military parade

A terrorist from Hamas takes part in a military parade to mark the anniversary of the 2014 war with Israel near the border in the central Gaza Strip July 19, 2023. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/File Photo)

He added that «Hezbollah comes from an opposite side. They are Shiites, but Jihadi Shiites, made of Lebanese Shia Islamists who have been recruited (and funded) by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, or the Sepah Pasdaran as early as 1980. They were launched by the Islamic Republic in northern Bekaa that year and marched south all the way to the southern suburb of Beirut and then to the south after Israel started to withdraw.»

ODDS OF ISRAEL-HEZBOLLAH WAR ‘INEVITABLE,’ EXPERTS FEAR: ‘TOTALLY PESSIMISTIC’

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the IDF Gibor base in Kiryat Shmona, where he was briefed by 769th Brigade Commander Avraham Marciano and Northern Command Home Front coordinator Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Alon Friedman June 5, 2024. (Israeli Government Press Office)

Phares, co-host of the popular «War and Freedom» podcast, said Hamas’ «ultimate goal is to destroy Israel, establish a Taliban-like emirate or state in Palestine, but, more importantly, have that Islamic entity join a new Caliphate across the region. Hamas as such is not a ‘nationalist’ group, but a Pan-Islamist organization.»

In contrast to Hamas, Phrase noted that Hezbollah believes «in exactly the doctrine of the Iranian regime. That is to establish a Khomeinist republic in Lebanon to join the sister Islamic Republic in Iran, and also in Iraq and Yemen, and eventually form a ‘parallel’ Shia Khomeinist (Jihadist) type of Caliphate, known as Imamate, Shia Islamists reject the Sunni Caliphate.» 

Terrorists from Hezbollah train in Lebannon

Hezbollah Radwan forces training in Southern Lebanon near the Israeli border. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

The Islamic revolutionary Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini founded the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, with a mission to export his Shia Islamism across the world.

«So, they are at polar opposites ideologically, how did they come together and what is common between them. What is common is, first, that they both want to destroy the Zionist entity [Israel]. That’s the ultimate joint goal. Then, they both want to bring down all Arab regimes who are with peace or are obstructing their jihad. They are both enemies of America,» Phares said.

Iran military parade

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the country’s annual army day April 18, 2018, in Tehran. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

The Iranian regime’s financing of both terrorist movements is a crucial factor, according to Mideast experts, in understanding jingoism in the region and the destabilization of the Levant and the Islamic heartland in the Middle East. 

Qatar hosts the Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh, who told the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera network in 2022— two years before Hamas launched its Oct. 7 invasion into southern Israel — that Tehran funnels at least $70 million to Hamas each year.  

«Iran stands at the forefront of supporting the cause and [the] people of Palestine,» Haniyeh said in March.

NETANYAHU SAYS ISRAEL ‘PREPARED FOR VERY INTENSE ACTION’ AGAINST IRAN-BACKED HEZBOLLAH AMID RISING TENSIONS

The intense relations between Hamas and Hezbollah stem from the mid-1990s.

Counterterrorism expert Bruce Hoffman also noted in a June 14 article on the website of the Council of Foreign Relations that «some five hundred Hamas fighters were trained in Iran in preparation for the October 7 attacks, a reflection of Iran’s longstanding support of Hamas.»

Phares explained that Hamas and Hezbollah came together in 1994-1995 when «hundreds of Hamas cadres and leaders were exiled by Israel to south Lebanon. They were hosted by Hezbollah, who linked them up with the regime in Tehran. They were received, funded and armed. They were told the two Jihadisms can work together despite the Sunni and Shia divide. «

Hamas leader Sinwar.

Yahya Sinwar, center, the elected leader of Hamas, appears during a ceremony for fighters killed by Israeli air strikes at Yarmouk football stadium May 24, 2021, in Gaza City, Gaza.  (Laurent Van der Stockt/Getty Images)

He said Hamas embraced the Shia side to the «point that in 2011 they eventually sided with [Syria President Bashar] Assad’s (pro-Khomeinist) regime against Sunni Salafi Jihadi factions. That was a major crisis for Hamas, accused by Sunnis of betraying them. But, eventually, when Assad regained ground in Syria, and the Islamic Regime shifted the fight to Gaza, Hamas regained ‘Jihadi notoriety’ in the region.»

«Strategically speaking, Hezbollah is currently enjoying a situation where it has Israel exactly where it wants it. And Israel has indeed achieved quite a lot of military achievements. But, on the strategic level, Hezbollah is benefiting from an attrition in Israeli capabilities and from a very challenging diplomatic situation,» Conricus, the former IDF spokesman, noted.

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A mural of Hassan Nasrallah with a red background and people cheering in front of it

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks via a video link as his supporters raise their hands during the Shiite holy day of Ashoura in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

«As long as the international community fails to understand the severity and acts with urgency in order to facilitate a diplomatic deal that will return Israeli civilians to their homes safely, the only other option that remains is the military one, which Israel, unfortunately, will have to use in order to implement the responsibility of any government to safeguard the lives of its civilians. I hope that can be avoided, but currently that does not seem to be the case.»

The U.S. has sanctioned both Hamas and Hezbollah as foreign terrorist organizations. The EU has merely sanctioned Hezbollah’s so-called «military wing,» a terrorist entity, while France has blocked the designation of a full terror proscription of Hezbollah. The EU sanctioned Hamas as a terrorist organization in 2003.


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