Say 'Quiet Prayer' for Merkel Election Win, PM Tells Hungarians
In a rare show of support, Hungary's populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged Hungarians on Friday to pray that German Chancellor Angela Merkel wins this weekend's election despite the pair's clashes over refugees.
"We should say a quiet prayer every evening that the mandate of the current holder of the chancellor's office is extended," the 54-year-old said during a regular public radio interview in Budapest.
Merkel would be "more friendly" to Hungarians than her opponent Martin Schulz, who Orban said had "insulted" them in his electoral campaign.
Merkel, 63, is tipped to win a fourth term in Sunday's national ballot.
In a June speech, Schulz, the centre-left Social Democrats candidate, had blasted Orban for his refusal to join a European Union plan to spread up to 160,000 migrants among the 28-member state bloc via mandatory quotas.
"When it comes to subsidies, it's all 'Yes, please'. And when it comes to solidarity in refugee policy, it's 'No, thank you' -- that's not acceptable," Schulz said.
Despite Orban's endorsement of Merkel -- whose Christian Democrats party is a member of the same European Parliament grouping as Orban's Fidesz -- the two leaders have often clashed over immigration policy.
Earlier this month, she said it was "unacceptable" that Budapest ignored a ruling by the EU's top court that it must join the EU's migrant relocation plan, although she did not mention consequences.
During the peak of the crisis in 2015, Orban emerged as Europe's standard-bearer for opposition to Merkel's "open-door" immigration policy, accusing her of "moral imperialism."