Hungary’s Orban is trying to drum up support with a poll that questions EU policies and Ukraine’s membership

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s government sent a survey to its citizens on Friday asking whether the European Union should allocate more funding to Ukraine or grant it membership. This, according to analysts, was an attempt by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to shore up support.

According to an October poll by liberal think tank Republikon, support for Orban’s ruling Fidesz party has fallen five points over the past year as Hungary struggles with the EU’s highest inflation rate and an economic slowdown.

Fidesz was still supported by 29% of voters, well ahead of its nearest opposition rival on 12%, but Orban will be keen to reverse the decline ahead of next June’s European Parliament elections.

“A split from the voter base has begun (…) this campaign aims to stop that,” said Zoltan Novak, a political analyst at the Center for Fair Political Analysis think tank. “This is a good tool to galvanize your core constituency.”

Another poll by the polling institute Median also showed a five percentage point drop in support for Fidesz between February and October.

Orban, in power since 2010, is at loggerheads with the EU over the bloc freezing Hungary’s access to billions of dollars in funds over concerns about the country’s democratic backsliding during his rule, which Orban denies.

The questions in the survey show that the EU favors Ukraine over Hungary, one of its own members.

Earlier this week, Orban said the bloc’s strategy of sending money and military aid to Ukraine had failed and he opposed starting accession negotiations with Kiev.

His government has taken a different stance towards Ukraine than the rest of the Union, refraining from arms deliveries and criticizing the EU sanctions against Russia, although it has ultimately supported all sanctions so far.

(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori; Editing by Mark Potter)

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