Brussels (Brussels Morning) Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán backed his Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš’ re-election bid on Wednesday.
Accompanied by Orbán on the campaign trail, Babiš spoke of how they had prevented the European Commission from imposing migrant intake quotas on EU member states in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis, Reuters reported.
Orbán’s support reflects the close connection between the two PMs who have backed each other in their disputes with the Commission.
The Czech Republic holds parliamentary elections on 8 and 9 October, with polls placing the Babiš-led ANO 2011 party ahead of its rivals.
Nonetheless, some polls suggest that the party will have difficulty forming a majority government with partners. This opens the way for the largest centre-left and centre-right opposition groups to come to power should they opt to join forces.
At a press conference in Ústí nad Labem, Babiš, introducing Orbán, pointed out that together they “push for our national interest” in the bloc.
Orbán on bilateral relations
Orbán reiterated that the two countries cooperate closely and praised the Czech Republic’s economic development.
“We in Hungary are ready to maintain close, friendly, sober cooperation with Andrej Babiš’ government”, Orbán observed. The Hungarian PM has clashed with the European Commission repeatedly over immigration, NGOs, academic institutions, the judiciary and the media.
At the beginning of the week, the Czech Republic agreed to send 50 police officers to Hungary to help protect the border with Serbia, which Babiš had visited the previous week.
Earlier this year, notably, the Czech Republic was not among the EU member states that protested Hungarian regulations banning what Hungary claims to be the promotion of gender reassignment and homosexuality to schoolchildren.
The opposition group Pirates and Mayors has criticised Babiš for his closeness to Orbán, with group leader Ivan Bartoš stating “Orbán shifted Hungary from democracy to autocracy over the past 10 years.”
Bartoš went on to say that Orbán “liquidates free media, liquidates the opposition, free enterprise, spies on journalists…” He also asserted that Babiš planned to adopt similar policies.