In shadow of Ukraine war, EU elections face critical moment

The war in Ukraine will likely have an impact on two critical upcoming elections in Europe – one in Hungary, the other in France – as the leaders’ relationships with Russia put pressure on their campaigns.

Mabel Berezin is a comparative sociologist at Cornell University whose work explores the intersection of political institutions and cultural meanings with an emphasis on challenges to democratic cohesion and solidarity in Europe.
Berezin says:

“The war in Ukraine has deflected public attention from two critical elections that will occur in Europe in the next ten days. On April 3, Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party will come up against a candidate from a coalition of opposition parties in Hungary. The election will be tight, but Orbán is likely to prevail. Orbán has been a ‘friend’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin but has backed off in view of the invasion of Ukraine.

“Ever the strategic actor, Orbán has evaded EU sanctions while he picked apart Hungarian democracy. Orbán’s likely victory will cement a brand of hyper-nationalist faux democracy that embeds a ‘soft’ authoritarianism in the former East.

“The first round of the French presidential election on April 10 will only determine who gets to the second round on April 24.  It would be a major upset if President Emmanuel Macron does not get to the second round – the real question is who he will run against. It currently appears to be Marine Le Pen, the right nationalist candidate on her third try. Whether she wins or not, the current line-up in France, although not anti-democratic as in Hungary, puts a return to the national – as opposed to the global – firmly on the ballot.”

For interviews contact Becka Bowyer, cell: (607) 220-4185, rpb224@cornell.edu.

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