Monday, June 24, 2024

European elections: Hungary poll puts Orbán’s Fidesz on 50% with Magyar’s Tisza on 27% – as it happened

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New Hungarian poll: Orbán’s Fidesz 50%, Magyar’s Tisza 27%

Among decided Hungarian voters, the ruling Fidesz party is polling at 50%, while Péter Magyar’s Tisza party is at 27%, according to a new study by Medián, HVG reports.

The opinion poll results mean Fidesz-KDNP could take at least 11 seats, Tisza 6, and an alliance of social democrats led by the Democratic Coalition 2 seats.

Fidesz could take even more seats if some smaller parties don’t make it into the parliament at all.

The ruling party’s overall popularity among Hungarian adults is at 35%.

Latest opinion poll results in Hungary Photograph: Median/HVG
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Key events

Summary of the day

  • People in Ireland and the Czech Republic are voting in the European elections, a day after voters in the Netherlands went to the polls.

  • Broadcaster NOS has published an exit poll showing that in the Netherlands the Green-Left-Labour alliance took a narrow lead over the far-right Freedom party (PVV).

  • Reacting to the exit polling, the Greens’ Bas Eickhout said “the narrative of the rise of the far-right has been beaten in the Netherlands.”

  • Far-right politician Geert Wilders welcomed the exit poll results “The PVV had the best result and biggest gains ever in the EU elections!” he wrote.

  • In Ireland, a record number of far-right candidates are on the ballot for local councils and the European parliament but it is unclear if many will get elected and join an expected far-right surge across Europe.

  • “Keeping the crazies out, that’s the main thing,” said Ger, in his 40s, after voting in Dun Laoghaire in south Dublin. “I’m quite concerned that one of them will get elected to Europe.”

  • Helen, 69, outside another south Dublin polling station, said she had nothing against foreigners but had voted for parties that would prioritise accommodation for “forgotten” homeless Irish people.

  • Petr Fiala, the conservative Czech prime minister, said his electoral alliance will stop illegal migration to Europe.

  • Meanwhile, the campaign has been heating up across the continent, as more countries prepare to vote.

  • Pollster Median found that among decided Hungarian voters, the ruling Fidesz party is polling at 50%, while Péter Magyar’s Tisza party is at 27%.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, addressed the French national assembly.

  • The European Commission said that Ukraine and Moldova meet all the criteria to formally start negotiations on EU membership.

We are now closing this blog but you can read all our European coverage here.

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European Commission confirms Ukraine and Moldova meet criteria for EU negotiations

The European Commission said today that Ukraine and Moldova meet all the criteria to formally start negotiations on EU membership, Reuters reported.

“We confirm that on the Commission side we consider that all the steps have been met by the two countries,” a Commission spokesperson said.

“The decision is now in the hands of the member states – it is for them to adopt the negotiating framework,” she said. “Once this step is done it is the prerogative of the EU presidency to convene an intergovernmental conference to formally mark the start of the negotiations,” she added.

To start negotiations, the EU’s member states need to unanimously agree by adopting the so-called negotiating framework.

Hungary has raised doubts about the assessment.

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The European People’s party (EPP) leader, Manfred Weber, made the case that Europe should make do with the resources it has.

His comments come amid an emerging debate over the bloc’s finances, in particular as pressure grows to invest in areas such as defence.

Wir müssen in Europa mit den Mitteln auskommen, die wir haben. Ich warne davor, wieder den einfachen Weg zur Bank zu gehen. Außerdem sind noch Milliarden beim Corona-Wiederaufbaufonds verfügbar. Wir haben kein Geldproblem in Europa. pic.twitter.com/g3tK0LYH25

— Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) June 7, 2024

Explainer: the European political families

After Sunday, attention will shift quickly to Europe’s party politics and the race for coveted top EU jobs.

Expect some political shifts: parties new to the European parliament will find homes in political groups.

For example, in Monday’s campaign blog, Henrik Dahl, lead candidate for Denmark’s Liberal Alliance, told us his party plans to join the centre-right European People’s party – because “there is less wokeness in the EPP.”

And some parties that have sat in the parliament for a long time will be looking for new allies as well.

One such party is Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, which quit the EPP in 2021 when it faced possible suspension or expulsion. Now, it has its eyes on the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

On the liberal side, Renew Europe is expected to decide after the election whether to expel Dutch member VVD due to its decision to enter government with the far-right.

Earlier this week, we heard from a few Renew members who want the group to stay together. “I think that at this very moment of time, we still should find the ways how to keep all of our members,” said Urmas Paet from Estonia’s Reform party.

Here’s a quick explainer of the current groups in the European parliament:

  • The European People’s party: This is the biggest political family, representing the centre-right. It includes heavyweights such as Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Poland’s Civic Platform. It has the most seats in the current parliament and is set to retain its position as the biggest group in the next one as well.

  • The Socialists and Democrats: The Socialists and Democrats are the second-largest group. The group includes parties such as Spain’s Socialist party and Germany’s Social Democratic party.

  • Renew Europe: This grouping brings together centrist and liberal parties, including Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance. It is expected to lose seats in the elections.

  • European Conservatives and Reformists: This is the grouping pundits, journalists and politicians have been chatting about the most over the past weeks. There is an ongoing debate about whether the centre right will open up to more cooperation with at least some of its members. It currently includes parties such as Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and Poland’s conservative Law and Justice – but also groupings such as Spain’s far-right Vox and French far-right party Reconquête.

  • Identity and Democracy: The ID group consists of a range of far-right parties, including France’s National Rally, Austria’s Freedom party and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang. In May, Alternative for Germany (AfD) was expelled from the group, following a spate of scandals.

  • Greens: The Greens group, with members such as the German Greens, is expected to lose seats in these elections.

  • The Left: This group includes members such as La France Insoumise and Ireland’s Sinn Féin.

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Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Disinformation latest

Claims that there will be a “three hour information blackout” that will allow the Spanish government to rig the results of the European elections in the country on Sunday are part of the latest wave of disinformation circulating.

Under the law, national results from any of the 27 countries cannot be published until polls in the the last country to vote, Italy, are closed at 11pm on Sunday night.

The European Digital Media Observatory, which is collating fact checking operations through the EU, said conspiracy theorists had jumped on this to spread “false claims” that this is a deliberate blackout to manipulate voter turnout.

EDMO has also detected false claims of imminent election fraud in Germany, exploiting a recent incident in which 2019 ballot papers were mistakenly sent to postal voters in Bavaria.

German news agency DPA reported the municipal council of Bad Reichenhall confirmed it was serious human error but there was no intention to fix the vote.

EDMO says it has previously warned that potential count issues could lead to disinformation campaigns, a trend already detected in previous elections.

Elsewhere, Factcheck Election 24 have picked up on debunked claims that Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president and lead candidate for the centre-right European People’s party, was going to “vaccinate” the EU population against “wrong thinking”, partly down to a mistranslation of a speech in which she likened disinformation to a virus.

We asked Ágnes Vadai, a candidate for Hungary’s opposition Democratic Coalition, what she’s been hearing from voters on the campaign trail.

“Most often is, of course, standard of living,” she said.

“This is a constant issue. The prices are really up. Inflation is high. Wages are little,” she said, adding that services such as education and health care have been “deteriorating.”

“So people are mainly coming up with their own personal stories, demonstrating that in spite of what Orbán is saying, the situation in Hungary is really terrifying.”

The Democratic Coalition is running on a join list with the Hungarian Socialist party and Párbeszéd, a small green party.

The latest opinion poll from Median showed 9% of decided voters support the list, putting it in third place after the ruling Fidesz party and Péter Magyar’s Tisza.

Asked about the decision to run as a joint list, Vadai said “I think it’s kind of an obvious choice.”

She added:

If you look at the Hungarian political scene, you will see right-wing parties – Fidesz, Our Homeland, Tisza – they want weaker Europe.

We want stronger Europe, and we especially want social Europe.

A campaign poster shows co-president of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) Agnes Kunhalmi, EP list leader of Democratic Coalition-Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue (DK-MSZP-Parbeszed) coalition Klara Dobrev in Debrecen, Hungary, 6 June. Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA
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Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Digital detectives in Paris have discovered hundreds of pro-Russia adverts on Facebook.

AI Forensics, which has been monitoring propaganda efforts on Facebook for months, says 275 pro-Russian propaganda ads collectively reached more than 3m accounts on Facebook.

Accounts on Facebook in France and Germany have both been targeted with Italy and Poland heavily targeted for the first time in the past few weeks, AI Forensics said.

It found 61 adverts reaching nearly 1.5m accounts in Italy between 1 May and 27 May, with 101 adverts targeting France for the same period, and 75 targeting Germany and 38 reaching about 350,000 accounts in Poland.

Marc Faddoul, founder of the not-for-profit service that investigates opaque and influential algorithms, says the pro-Russia adverts are being platformed from dormant Facebook accounts and run for just two or three days to avoid detection.

Some link to doppleganger sites such as Lepoint.wf, a take on the French newspaper website but with a ‘wf’ country code belonging to little known south Pacific islands Wallis and Futuna.

Referring to new EU laws regulating the online giants, Faddoul said it was able to scrutinise the adverts “thanks to the Digital Services Act and Meta for good implementation of the ad transparency mandated by the DSA”.

But he said more needed to be done.

Up until recently the advertisers also tried to disguise their pro-Russia and anti-Ukraine content by breaking up the country name with dots with one advert from “Grubby Excellent” complaining about why Europeans were “voting for the U.K.ai.n”

He said they quickly changed to using commas to prevent recognition by Facebook moderators.

Meta, owner of Facebook said it took action against the ads “most within hours of being created.

It also said the methodology used by AI Forensics did not consider its “proactive moderation” which had removed 430,000 adverts in the EU between July and December last year.

It said Meta first exposed the Doppelganger campaign in 2022, and since then it had been “investigating, disrupting, and blocking” content relating to this network.

“This is a highly adversarial space with malicious groups constantly evolving their tactics to evade detection by companies across the internet, which is why we invest heavily in regularly sharing our threat research publicly and with our industry peers, researchers and with law enforcement so we can keep raising our collective defences,” said a Meta spokesperson.

Who is Péter Magyar, the candidate shaking up Hungarian politics?

Péter Magyar is a political newcomer who is causing headaches for Hungary’s government – and other opposition parties.

He went from being virtually unknown just a few months ago to polling at 27% among decided voters for the European election.

An ex-diplomat who used to be married to Hungary’s former justice minister, Magyar told the Guardian in an interview in April that his experience as a regime insider can help him succeed where other opposition figures have failed, citing his “crazy” rise in the polls and “vision” as signs that change is possible.

He has differentiated himself from Hungary’s struggling opposition parties by criticising not only Orbán but also some of the government’s opponents, and asking conservative, leftwing and liberal Hungarians to join his movement.

Magyar’s messaging has focused heavily on domestic issues, in particular fighting corruption and improving Hungarians’ quality of life.

In the interview, he criticised Brussels but also stressed the need for a constructive relationship with the EU. “I can tell you that I’m a bit closer to the position of Fidesz than the opposition, but what’s for sure is that we are a member of the club and we should behave like a member of the club,” he said.

Read the full story.

Péter Magyar, a rising challenger to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, addresses people at a campaign rally in the city of Debrecen, on May 5. Photograph: Dénes Erdős/AP
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New Hungarian poll: Orbán’s Fidesz 50%, Magyar’s Tisza 27%

Among decided Hungarian voters, the ruling Fidesz party is polling at 50%, while Péter Magyar’s Tisza party is at 27%, according to a new study by Medián, HVG reports.

The opinion poll results mean Fidesz-KDNP could take at least 11 seats, Tisza 6, and an alliance of social democrats led by the Democratic Coalition 2 seats.

Fidesz could take even more seats if some smaller parties don’t make it into the parliament at all.

The ruling party’s overall popularity among Hungarian adults is at 35%.

Latest opinion poll results in Hungary Photograph: Median/HVG
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Von der Leyen campaigns in Austria

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president and lead candidate for the European People’s party, has been campaigning in Austria today.

You can catch up on our coverage of the Austrian campaign on yesterday’s live blog, where we heard from three candidates: Andreas Schieder, lead candidate for Austria’s Social Democratic party, Reinhold Lopatka, lead candidate for the Austrian People’s party, and Anna Stürgkh, a candidate for the liberal NEOS party.

‘Keeping the crazies out’: Irish voters weigh in

Rory Carroll

Rory Carroll

Voters in Ireland are casting ballots in local and European elections that have become a test for the far-right and mainstream parties.

“Keeping the crazies out, that’s the main thing,” said Ger, in his 40s, after voting in Dun Laoghaire in south Dublin. “I’m quite concerned that one of them will get elected to Europe.”

He was referring to candidates that link Ireland’s housing crisis to immigrants and asylum seekers. Some of the candidates are running as independents, others are members of micro-parties that proclaim “Ireland for the Irish”.

Such sentiments have been blamed for threats and and racist abuse of minority candidates and a slump in support for Sinn Fein, a left-wing opposition party that some former supporters deem “soft” on migration.

Helen, 69, outside another south Dublin polling station, said she had nothing against foreigners but had voted for parties that would prioritise accommodation for “forgotten” homeless Irish people. Her friend Linda, 76, said Ireland needed to build affordable homes. “You can’t get a rabbit hutch here for less than €300,000.”

The taoiseach and Fine Gael leader, Simon Harris, urged people to vote. “If you don’t turn up you’re allowing someone else to speak on your behalf,” he told reporters at the voting centre in his home constituency in County Wicklow. “We live in a healthy democracy and today is working proof of it.”

The Green party leader Eamon Ryan said he had not detected strong anti-government sentiment. “We’ll see if that’s reflected in the count in the end.” Fine Gael, the Greens and Fianna Fail rule in a centre-right coalition that must call a general election by March.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina arrive to cast their votes in the local and European elections at St Mary’s Hospital in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Spotlight: the European election in Hungary

Today’s live blog comes to you from Budapest, where an intense campaign is ongoing for both local and European parliament elections.

The ruling Fidesz party, led by far-right populist prime minister Viktor Orbán, is visibly nervous, amid the rapid rise of Péter Magyar – a former insider who switched sides and is now leading the biggest opposition force in Hungary.

Fidesz is still set to win, but a strong performance from Magyar would have a significant impact on Hungarian politics and put Orbán on the defensive ahead of a national election in two years.

The Hungarian government has been campaigning on what it describes as a “peace” platform, promoting conspiracies that the west is trying to drag Hungary and Hungarian soldiers into a war with Russia and a fake narrative that all of Orbán’s opponents are being paid by western governments and organisations to undermine the country’s national interest.

Magyar, who has presented himself as a centrist and tried to appeal to right-wing, left-wing and liberal voters, has been campaigning on an anti-corruption platform.

His unexpected appearance on the political scene has excited many voters, who have been turning out to his rallies across the country. But it has also led to debates among Orbán’s critics about his political positioning and impact on other political parties as other opposition groups declined in the polls.

A supporter of Péter Magyar’s Tisza party campaigns in Buda on Friday Photograph: Lili Bayer/The Guardian
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