With a potentially pro-Orbán change in government in Bratislava come September, Orban Watch will be reporting on Slovakian politics and Hungarian relations. Below is our overview of Fidesz in neighbouring Slovakia, where ethnic Hungarians comprise 7.75 percent of its 5.4 million inhabitants.
Media - For over a decade, Orbán's government has strategically invested in Slovak media outlets via an intricate web of proxies. High-profile acquisitions of Slovakian media outlets have been made by Hungarian companies linked to Lőrinc Mészáros and Oskar Világi, staunch allies of Orbán. Their media ownership paves the way for the dissemination of pro-Orbán narratives and misinformation throughout Slovakia.
Funding - Hungarian state funds are systematically funnelled into Slovakia under the guise of ‘support’ for Slovakia’s Hungarian minority's education. While seemingly benign, Budapest endeavours to build Fidesz-friendly networks throughout the country, aligning Slovakian policy with Orbán’s agenda.
Extra-territorial offerings - Orbán has extended dual-citizenship status to ethnic Hungarians. This allows ethnic Hungarians abroad to vote in Hungary's elections. The aim is to sway several parliamentary seats in Hungary to do Orbán’s bidding, despite these heritage Hungarians’ foreign citizenship.
Complicating the picture further is Hungary's demographic challenges, including a rapidly ageing population and an emigrating workforce. These factors underpin Orbán's interest in Slovakian-Hungarian communities to build loyal voter base and replenish Hungary’s growing labour deficit.
Orbán's devilry in Slovakia reveals a concerted effort to malignly influence the nation. His interventions threaten all those committed to safeguarding democratic values and state sovereignty in Bratislava and beyond.