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Lessons of the Baja by-election

September 25th, 2013

A left-wing columnist says the opposition only lost by a hairsbreadth and the result showed LMP’s contribution is indispensable to beat Orbán in 2014. He reiterates opposition claims of irregularities during the election. A pro-government pundit, on the other hand, finds the Baja election is proof that whatever the opposition tries, they are bound to lose.

A by-election in the south Hungarian city of Baja for a local council seat in a district of a few thousand inhabitants has been considered a test of strength on both sides, after Fidesz lost a similar minor battle two weeks ago and PM Viktor Orbán said no more such blunders would be welcome. MSZP, Together-PM and Ferenc Gyurcsány’s DK had a joint candidate, who lost to her pro-government rival by a narrow margin. LMP and Jobbik stood their own candidates.

In Magyar Hírlap, Zsolt Bayer tells the opposition: “you have tried everything and we are still on top”. He denounces the opposition forces as “scoundrels” and “liars”, reproaching them for their accusation that the local Fidesz mayor had a bus stop built close to his home. Bayer went on to thank “the good Roma people” who gave their vote to the government candidate, and Lungo Drom (a Roma organization allied with Fidesz) for their campaign effort. The Roma vote, he implies, shows the government is siding with the poor, whatever the vile accusations of the opposition.

Népszabadság’s István Tanács offers a very different interpretation. A , even if it was close and even if voters were indeed trucked to the booth as opposition activists claim. Yet it also shows, he suggests, that trust in the government is on the decline as the Fidesz candidate received fewer votes than in 2010 and the joint opposition candidate did slightly better than her predecessor three years ago. LMP’s own candidate received 4% of the vote – a sure sign that the government can only be beaten if all /left-wing/ opposition forces co-operate, he concludes.

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