Skip to content

Hungary’s Ruling Party Blocks Vote on Sweden’s Accession to NATO

Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party sabotaged a vote in the Hungarian parliament on ratifying Sweden’s accession to NATO yesterday by not showing up. The Feb. 5 session in parliament was supported by six opposition parties, but Fidesz lawmakers didn’t attend, preventing a quorum and scuttling the attempt to place a vote on the legislature’s schedule, reported The Associated Press. U.S. Ambassador David Pressman said afterwards that the United States looks forward to “watching this closely and to Hungary acting expeditiously.”

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD) had already raised the prospect, in a statement issued Feb. 1 after a meeting with Pressman, of imposing sanctions on Hungarian officials for backsliding on democracy. “The Biden Administration should be examining whether Hungary truly is a trusted partner deserving of participating in the Visa Waiver Program—and given the level of corruption, whether it is appropriate to initiate sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act.” He called Orbán “the least reliable member of NATO.”

Hungarian officials have indicated that Fidesz lawmakers won’t support holding a vote until Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson accepts Orbán’s invitation for him to visit Budapest to negotiate on the matter. Kristersson has said that he will make the trip, but only after Hungary approves his country’s NATO membership. Fidesz said in a Feb. 5 statement that ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession can take place during a regular session of parliament, “but we are expecting the Swedish prime minister to visit Hungary first.”

“If this is an important issue for the Swedes, the Swedish prime minister will obviously come to Budapest,” the party said.