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Baja by-election lays the ground for an ugly campaign in 2014

October 16th, 2013

A pro-government daily suggests that the latest election result offers few clues about the real chances of the parties in 2014. but does provide an early indication of just how ugly the campaign might get; the author warns all contenders to moderate their tone.
In the town of Baja (population 38,000), the by-election was repeated on Sunday, and the Fidesz candidate won by a margin of 6 per cent, after the court annulled the results of the first election because of opposition complaints. (See BudaPost October 15.)

In Magyar Nemzet, deputy editor Szabolcs Szerető writes that the “hysterical excitement” surrounding the elections was possibly provoked by the opposition “smelling blood”.  This is why, he suggests, the result amounts to a crushing defeat for them, regardless of the vote count: despite the fact that “Fidesz put the weapon in their hands” (by infringing on campaign rules), the opposition could not win the second round, any more than the first. None of the political forces can be proud of this campaign, the author notes sadly, and legal battles continue with the complaints filed by both the opposition and Fidesz. Yet there are lessons, he continues. It was a close call, but the expectation that the country wants a change was not fulfilled. On the other hand, it became clear that the choice is now between those who want to “send the government packing” and those who do not want to see “people responsible for the last eight years” (meaning the left-wing rule from 2002 to 2010 – quotation marks in the original) in power again. Middle-of-the-road LMP received not a single vote in the district where the election was repeated, and Jobbik is struggling to formulate an attractive message, he adds. A further lesson is that the opposition does not necessarily benefit from a higher turnout – and that next year’s campaign will be ugly beyond measure.

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