Hungary organizing a public poll on support for EU sanctions on Russia

International sanctions are political and economic decisions made as part of diplomatic efforts by countries, multilateral or regional organizations, or organizations against states or organizations to protect national security interests and international law and defend against threats to international peace. An example of this would be if a country wanted to punish another for violating international law or threatening international peace.

The party now in power in Hungary said on Thursday that it intends to survey to determine the level of support among Hungarians for the sanctions that the European Union has imposed on Russia due to its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

Mate Kocsis, the caucus leader for Fidesz, said at a news conference on Thursday after a closed-door meeting that the party intends to call for a "public poll" on energy sanctions, which he claimed had been decided on by the Brussels’ elite of the EU. Kocsis made these comments after the meeting had concluded.

The sanctions have a negative impact. Kocsis said that they are wreaking havoc on the economy of Europe. "We have to persuade the decision-makers in Europe, that they shouldn't sustain the energy sanctions because it would result in a lot of issues."

The poll, which the government refers to as a "national consultation," is an unofficial survey made accessible to every adult in Hungary and may either be filled out online or returned to the government by mail.

Pollsters and opposition parties have criticized these surveys, which have been issued multiple times by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban since he came to power in 2010. The surveys have been criticized for containing biased and leading questions, and they have also been criticized for having no binding legal relevance.

Kocsis said at the press conference that the survey is a "political instrument" that the government may use in its discussions with the EU over whether or not to renew or impose more sanctions against Russia. He said that the government would decide on when to conduct the survey.

Is the EU considering sanctioning Russia?

The European Union (EU) imposed new sanctions on Russia on July 21, 2022, as a reaction to Russia's unlawful and aggressive military intervention against Ukraine. These new penalties are an expansion and further development of the existing measures.

The government of Hungary has been quite loud in its opposition to the EU's sanctions on Moscow, stating that these penalties are inflicting more harm to European economies than the Russian economy. In addition, Budapest has refused to either provide neighboring Ukraine with arms or to let the flow of weapons over its border with the troubled nation.

Orban, who has for years maintained a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, reportedly stated at the Fidesz conference on Wednesday that sanctions against Russia should be scrapped and would curb inflation and cut gas prices in half if they were to be scrapped. The report was published in Magyar Nemzet, which supports the government.