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Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and Czechia express varied levels of support and opposition towards Ursula von der Leyen’s potential second term as the President of the European Commission. While Hungary and Slovakia voice strong criticism and unlikely backing, Poland shows a split stance within its political parties, and Czechia remains ambivalent but focused on securing influential portfolios within the EU.

Written by Richárd Demény (Political Capital), Barbara Zmušková (, Aleksandra Krzysztoszek and Krzysztof Ryncarz (, Kateřina Horáková (Euractiv Czechia)


In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán played a key role in derailing the Spitzenkandidat system, thus blocking Manfred Weber's bid to become the President of the European Commission. At the time, the Hungarian prime minister praised the nomination of Ursula von der Leyen, hoping that she would be more lenient to the Hungarian government.

However, the Hungarian government's hopes towards von der Leyen have gradually eroded over the years. This Commission has been in a long-standing showdown with Orbán, who has become one of von der Leyen’s fiercest and most vocal critics.

"We think of her [von der Leyen], and we read her words as if a leader of Europe was speaking – when in fact she is our employee, our paid employee, whose job it is to carry out what we decide," he recently said.

In 2023, the Hungarian government unveiled billboards vilifying the European Commission President, depicting her alongside Alex Soros, the son of liberal Hungarian-American financier George Soros, a perennial target of hostility from Fidesz. The ruling party also put up billboards for the European election, branding the opposition as "Brussels' humble servants – migration, gender, war" featuring von der Leyen.

So unsurprisingly, the Hungarian government will not support von der Leyen for a second term at the helm of the European Commission. However, the Hungarian EU Minister, János Bóka, suggested that the Hungarian government would not oppose the other names in the top job package, which includes Portugal's Antónia Costa as European President, Malta's Roberta Metsola as the President of the European Parliament, and Estonia's Kaja Kallas as the EU's foreign policy chief.

Regarding other Hungarian political parties, the European People's Party has welcomed the newly formed Respect and Freedom Party (TISZA) into its ranks. The party's leader and MEP-elect, Péter Magyar, has been coy about whether his party will support von der Leyen's nomination in the European Parliament.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) voted in favor of von der Leyen's appointment as European Commission President in 2019. The party did not explicitly say that it would support von der Leyen's re-election as the party campaigned for the socialists’ top candidate, Nicolas Schmit. The far-right Our Homeland (Mi Hazánk) has not shied away from criticizing von der Leyen. Pfizer-gate has been a rallying cry for the party.


While the governing parties in Slovakia remain very critical of the current Brussels establishment, they show a willingness to support mainstream leadership candidates when they can get something in exchange.  

This was the case of the negotiations of Peter Pellegrini, current Slovak President and founding leader of the Hlas party, at the June summit. While Pellegrini paid lip service to representation of Central and Eastern European candidates among EU’s top jobs, he ended up supporting Portugal’s Antonio Costa as Council President, provided he reconsiders the S&D’s suspension of Hlas and Smer’s memberships.

Pellegrini also criticized Kaja Kallas’s bid for High Representative and said she would need to show support towards “diplomacy of all four cardinal directions”, which is Slovak government’s code word for a softer approach on Russia and China.

However, Pellegrini was mum about the EU’s highest job – President of the European Union. Governing Smer party is very critical of Ursula von der Leyen. Monika Beňová, leader of SMER MEPs, said the five-member delegation in the European Parliament will not support her. 

“From my point of view, she is more of a lobbyist than a politician, which is what her political career in Germany failed to build on, and then repeated in the European Commission, where she is now being investigated by the European Public Prosecutor's Office precisely for lobbying," Beňová said.


With Jerzy Buzek serving as a European Parliament president between 2009 and 2012, and Donald Tusk being the European Council President in the 2014-2019 period, Poland has long been the only country of the “new EU” to hold any of the top jobs.

This year, Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski is considered one of the frontrunners for the post of the EU diplomacy chief, especially if the EU leaders do not reach a consensus over the candidacy of Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

Sikorski was already nominated as Poland’s candidate for that post in 2014, with Der Spiegel describing him as “Mr Perfect from Warsaw.” Yet, he lost the job to his Italian Socialist counterpart Federica Mogherini as a part of the deal involving Tusk becoming the Council President.

This time, unlike ten years ago, Sikorski argues that he does not want to run for any prominent EU job. “Donald Tusk and I are probably the only Polish politicians to give up a lucrative EU job to serve Poland,” he said recently.

According to analysts, Poland may have a chance for a good portfolio in the next European Commission if Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whom Tusk officially endorsed, is reappointed.

While Tusk's Civic Platform (PO) and another Polish member of the EPP, the Polish People's Party (PSL), will certainly support von der Leyen, she can be anything but confident about the votes of the other Polish groupings, including of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party that will have the second biggest MEP representation from Poland.

“She is poorly rated even among the EPP commissioners. Consequently, we will vote against her,” ex-MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, who failed to win a new EP mandate, told Euractiv Poland prior to the European elections.

The problem for PiS might be the possible support for von der Leyen from Italy’s Giorgia Meloni. Should her party Fratelli d’Italia vote for her reappointment, and PiS oppose it, a serious split may emerge in the ECR group.

Left MEP Robert Biedroń (S&D) argued that the Polish Left’s support for von der Leyen will depend on whether she enters a coalition with the ECR. “It is hard to support von der Leyen, while she wants to collaborate with the ECR, of which PiS is a member,” he told Euractiv Poland, adding that he expected from Tusk to declare that PO would not give its approval for such a cooperation either.

The far-right Confederation’s Anna Bryłka made it clear that her party “under no circumstances” would support von der Leyen. “We would prefer someone with views closer to ours,” to take up the Commission presidency, she told Euractiv Poland.


Czechia has no aspiration for EU top jobs but Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala wants the future leadership to focus on two fundamental principles. „These are in short internal and external security, and competitiveness,“ he told during a press briefing on Monday (17 June).

Regarding Fiala’s support for the second term of Ursula von der Leyen, Fiala’s ODS sits in ECR political group. According to diplomatic sources, ECR is excluded from appointing the top jobs to a certain extent. Nevertheless, Fiala is known to have a friendly relationship with von der Leyen, suggesting he and his MEPs might support her nomination despite their political differences.

Von der Leyen's support in the European Parliament from Czech parties is also questionable. ANO, the biggest opposition party led by Andrej Babiš with seven MEPS, will oppose her. The party has recently left both the liberal ALDE and Renew group, suggesting a shift towards more nationalist and populist rhetoric.

„I consider the presidency of the Ursula von der Leyen as unsuccessful in a number of aspects (…),” concluded Ondřej Kovařík, re-elected MEP for ANO, to

Von der Leyen is also unlikely to gain support from other Czech MEPs. Namely Přísaha and Motoristé, Stačilo! coalition led by the Czech Communist Party and SPD, which account for five mandates in EP.

On the other hand, the Czech MEPs from EPPs are expected to support von der Leyen in her next term.

Czechia is more focused on the fight for a strong portfolio within the European Commission.

„Our chances for an attractive portfolio are certainly increasing thanks to the way the Czech Republic has behaved in the EU in recent years. Certainly, energy, cohesion or the internal market would be attractive to us,“ Martin Dvořák, Czechia’s Minister for European affairs, thinks.

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