This analysis into the foreign policies of Poland and Hungary under PiS and Fidesz, particularly in the context of the Russian war on Ukraine. Despite both parties being often labelled as populist, their foreign policy positions and actions differ. The ongoing Russian war against Ukraine has made these differences more visible, impacting their relationships with each other, other nations, and the EU.
The disagreement between PiS and Fidesz regarding Russia and Ukraine has divided the Visegrad 4 group and paralysed efforts to consolidate the populist radical right in Europe, weakening their stance leading up to the EP elections in 2024. Concerning EU sanctions, PiS supports the toughest measures, while Fidesz aims to soften them, even when Hungary’s national interests are not directly affected.
This suggests that the ascent of populist radical-right parties in EU countries does not necessarily weaken EU foreign policy if these parties support a robust approach. However, the inherent risk with populist parties is their potential to prioritize short-term gains over long-term strategic interests, as seen in the current dispute between Warsaw and Kyiv over grain trade, fuelled by election campaign considerations.
This analysis is based on interviews conducted with experts on populism, Polish and Hungarian politics in February-March and August-September 2023.
Download and read: A Tale of Two Populists: The Foreign Policy of PiS and Fidesz (PDF)