December 14-20, 2023 | Issue 45 - EUCOM
Gabriel Helupka, Megan Khalife, Barbara Batycka, Dan Flanagan, Jayde Dorland, Sophia Ritscher
Mia Sadler, Editor; Alya Fathia Fitri, Senior Editor
Date: December 14, 2023
Parties involved: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban; Hungary; EU; Belgium; Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo; Germany; German Chancellor Olaf Scholz; other EU member states; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; Ukraine; Russia; US
The event: On X, Orban announced Hungary was the sole country to veto discussions to provide Ukraine a $50 million aid package and objected to participating in starting EU membership ascension talks with Ukraine. During an EU summit in Brussels, EU members, including Scholz, requested that Orban leave the room to bypass Hungarian objections to accession negotiations. The other EU members supported Ukraine’s financial aid package, which requires unanimous consent to pass. Several EU members, including De Croo, publicly voiced frustrations with Orban, saying, “If you are part of the decision, you agree with the decision, or afterward, you just have to keep your mouth shut.”
Analysis & Implications:
Internal divisions between EU members and Hungary will likely increase, casting the country as an outcast and reiterating unconditional EU support for Ukraine. Orban will very likely persist in blocking the financial package deal, claiming it supports Hungary’s national interests, almost certainly further straining relations with EU members. EU leaders will likely prefer a unanimous financial deal but will very likely seek alternative funding avenues to circumvent Hungary’s opposition.
Orban will very likely use Hungary’s opposition to secure financial concessions from the EU, almost certainly aiming to release the EU frozen funds over rule-of-law concerns. There is a roughly even chance EU leaders will perceive Hungary’s opposition to Ukranian funding as dishonest and political posturing to obtain leverage, very likely decreasing trust and cooperation with Hungary. The EU will very likely engage in diplomatic discussions with Hungarian counterparts to facilitate agreements on these respective interests, seeking to avoid challenges to EU unity.
Ukraine will almost certainly maintain its readiness to join the EU, likely strengthening its anti-corruption efforts and commitment to the EU to demonstrate stability as a potential contributing member. There is a roughly even chance Zelensky will denounce Hungary’s opposition as tied to Russian influence, as any Ukrainian hostility will likely extend financial package discussions on withholding necessary war funds and jeopardizing Ukrainian accession talks. Ukraine will likely increase aid discussions with other allies, such as the US, almost certainly seeking other avenues of financing to ensure stable economic funding and prepare for a military offensive throughout winter.
Date: December 17, 2023
Location: Pirna, Saxony, Germany
Parties involved: Germany; German citizens; German domestic intelligence agencies; far-right political party Alternative for Germany (AfD); center-right political party Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU); Pirna Mayor-elect Tim Lochner; German political parties; German electorate; European countries
The event: On Sunday, AfD-affiliated candidate Lochner won Pirna’s mayoral election, garnering 38.5 percent of the 2nd round vote. The election occurred days after Saxony’s domestic intelligence agency declared AfD a right-wing extremist party because of its alleged undermining of democracy and hardline migration views. The election was AfD’s first mayorship victory amid a substantial rise in national polling and a first-time victory in local council elections.
Analysis & Implications:
AfD’s mayoral win is very likely indicative of an increasingly polarized German electorate, as AfD will likely feel emboldened to increase influence expansion efforts in other municipalities. Traditional right and left-wing political parties will likely reassess their campaign strategies to accommodate AfD’s rising electoral success, taking more robust stances against AfD’s hardline positions on domestic issues. A decline of political centralism in municipal elections will likely result in echo chambers that foster perceived radical views on campaign issues, which will likely normalize AfD’s participation in mainstream German politics.
There is a roughly even chance that other European countries facing a rise in extremist political parties will see populist candidates further engaging in campaigns, with countries struggling economically at the forefront of this wave. Citizens will very likely perceive extremist movements calling for greater secular and nation-centric policies as more legitimate, likely resulting in more traction with Eastern Europeans. Leading European national parties will almost certainly face the dilemma of collaborating with or actively opposing such parties, likely affecting their standing in coalition governments struggling to gain a majority. Conservative parties in Europe have a roughly even chance of choosing to actively collaborate with extremist parties, given their overlap in conservative goals and constituents.
The AfD's victory in Pirna almost certainly highlights the party's evolving strategies and impact on the German political landscape, very likely raising questions about the trajectory of democracy in the country. The party's growing political influence almost certainly challenges norms and the traditional taboo against collaborating with the far right. Voters in upcoming elections will very likely reflect on the political system’s health and the ability of mainstream parties, like the CDU, to safeguard democratic values, given the parties’ statements about potential future cooperation with the AfD. Increased collaboration between mainstream parties and the AfD will almost certainly result in the erosion of social cohesion and create tensions among various demographic groups and communities.
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 Money by Wix images
 PM_ViktorOrban, from X, via CyberHUMINT
 Hungary blocks EU financial aid package for Ukraine, Reuters, December 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-set-summit-showdown-ukraine-with-hungarys-orban-2023-12-13/
 Germany: Far-right AfD wins first city mayoral election, DW, December 2023,
 German far-right party makes electoral breakthrough, Financial Times, December 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/a9f6d836-dba1-46fc-9093-a96c06badf6c