Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Utility tariff cuts – a magic campaign weapon

September 18th, 2013

A popular analyst suggests that the campaign around utility tariff cuts may well guarantee PM Orbán’s victory in next year’s elections.

Addressing the participants at the traditional informal meeting of Fidesz politicians and right-wing intellectuals at Kötcse, a few kilometres south of Lake Balaton, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the period ahead as “a year of battles for tariff cuts”. Powerful political and business circles at home and abroad, he said, will do their utmost to prevent these measures, but the government and its supporters will persevere. The government plans to impose a second round of cuts on electricity, gas, water and sewage tariffs this autumn. All in all, from January households will pay providers 20 per cent less than in 2012.

Fidesz’s electoral campaign will be narrowed down to one single word – “rezsi”, meaning household utility cost, political scientist Gábor Török predicts in his blog. He attributes this strategy to Árpád Habony, the prime minister’s PR adviser, who, according to Török’s Fidesz sources, “is astonishingly good at bringing policies down to the level of the man in the street”. The analyst believes that what made Mr Orbán receptive to such practices was his defeat in 2002. In that year’s electoral campaign the Socialist opposition promised sudden pay rises and Fidesz thought it was too groundless an idea for voters to buy. As it turned out, it was not, and Mr Orbán was voted out of office, although Török thinks his defeat was also due to other reasons beyond the pay rise promised by his opponents. The conclusion Viktor Orbán drew from that episode was that “you cannot be too people friendly in that contest”, Török believes. The Socialist Party does not seem to have an answer to the “utility discourse”, he adds, which may well turn it into a “magic weapon”. In a sceptical closing remark, Török recalls the VAT cuts introduced by the left-wing government just before the 2006 elections , only to be revoked immediately afterwards.

Tags: , ,