LONDON - Outspoken Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban ramped up his anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of parliamentary elections Sunday, when the ruling Fidesz party is expected to score a straightforward win.
The European Union and the United Nations have voiced alarm at the tone of the campaign, and fears over alleged attacks on the media and judiciary.
Speaking at a recent campaign rally, Orban accused the EU of “trying to take away our country.”
“Brussels wants to dilute the population of Europe and to replace it, to cast aside our culture, our way of life,” he told supporters in Budapest March 15.
Close to a half-million migrants entered Hungary in 2015 and 2016 at the height of the crisis, most headed for Western Europe. The flow was stopped after Orban’s government erected a border fence.
The EU wants all member states to take in quotas of refugees, but Hungary has refused, and Brussels has threatened legal action. The dispute has fueled support for the government’s brand of ethnic identity politics.
WATCH: Hungary’s Prime Minister Fires Up Anti-Migrant Rhetoric Ahead of Election
In an interview for VOA, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Hungarians do not want a multicultural society.
“We Hungarians, we consider it as a value that we have been living in the Carpathian Basin in the central part of Europe for 1,100 years as a homogeneous united Hungarian Christian society.”
Among the many people the ruling Fidesz party accuses of conspiring against Hungary is billionaire U.S. financier George Soros, a claim he strongly denies.
The opposition accuses Prime Minister Orban of acting like a dictator.
“Today, freedom is not in danger because of foreign powers. Today, tyranny is coming not from the East, not even from the West, but from Felcsut (Orban’s hometown),” Socialist Party leader Gergely Karacsony said at a recent campaign rally.
There is an added unknown quantity in Sunday’s poll. The previously far-right Jobbik party has tacked toward the political center, attracting pensioners with promises of better health care.
Many younger people are also turned off by Orban’s agenda.
“I think the government does not give enough freedom for thinking any more, and I cannot see my future in this kind of environment,” student Laura Balazs said while attending a recent job fair in Budapest.
The United Nations’ human rights chief recently described the Orban as a “racist” and “xenophobe.”
But with strong approval for his uncompromising anti-migrant rhetoric, Orban looks set for another term in power.