But its hopes that Mr. Orban, who went from being an anti-Kremlin liberal firebrand in 1989 to Mr. Putin’s closest partner in Europe, might again change direction after the election seems to have been diminished by the scale of his party’s victory. It won more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament while an openly pro-Putin, far-right party, Our Homeland Movement, secured enough votes to enter Parliament for the first time.
“Putin is right. Ukraine is getting what it deserves,” Janos Horvath, a supporter of the far-right party, said after casting his vote. Ukraine, he said, echoing a favorite Kremlin talking point, mistreats its ethnic minorities, including Russians and Hungarians, and “must be stopped.”
The crushing defeat of Mr. Orban’s opponents, who campaigned on pledges to show more solidarity with Ukraine and Hungary’s allies, makes it unlikely that Hungary will now join NATO and the European Union in condemning Mr. Putin over his military onslaught or in supplying weapons to help Ukraine defend itself. Hungary, unlike Poland, has steadfastly refused to let weapons pass through its territory to Ukraine.
While increasingly isolated from his foreign allies, Mr. Orban won strong domestic support for his neutral stance on the war, turning what had initially threatened to become an electoral liability into a vote-getter. He did this through relentless misrepresentation of his opponents’ position, deploying a vast apparatus of loyal media outlets to convince voters that his rivals wanted to send Hungarian troops to Ukraine to fight against Russia, something that nobody has suggested doing.