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Undecided voters in focus

October 7th, 2013

Analysts struggle to account for the gap between opinion polls and the results of local by-elections. They all agree that undecided voters without clear preferences or who are unwilling to share their views with pollsters, will have a major role in the 2014 election and thus parties will spare no effort to mobilize them.

According to the latest polls, Fidesz maintains its clear lead ahead of the left-wing opposition parties. The governing party is supported by 27 to 33 per cent of the total voting age population, the MSZP stands at 10 to15 per cent, Together at 3 to 6 per cent, and the Democratic Coalition at 2 to 3 per cent. Far-right Jobbik maintains its 6 to10 per cent support, while LMP is favoured by 1 to 2 per cent of potential voters. Based on the above numbers, the Medián polling company and the liberal think-tank Political Capital calculated in two separate surveys that today Fidesz would win a two-thirds majority in the House once again. Snap election results, however, show a somewhat different picture of the political landscape. Despite the Fidesz lead suggested by the polls, the opposition parties have defeated Fidesz in some municipalities, and the competition was close even in some traditionally right-wing areas (see BudaPost October 2).

Fidesz can be defeated, political analyst Zoltán Lakner writes in Heti Világgazdaság. Lakner (a strategic adviser to the MSZP) admits that the electoral pact between the Socialists and Bajnai’s Together 2014 has not increased the base of the two left-wing parties at all, while Fidesz has gained some extra support in the past months. While this moderate increase has been explained by repeated energy and utility tariff cuts, the local snap-election results show that “price cuts are no silver bullet” for the right, Lakner remarks. “The majority of the voters are unhappy, disappointed, pessimistic and want a new government”, Lakner maintains. He speculates that the opinion polls distort actual public opinion as many voters in regions where the state is the major employer are reluctant to voice their discontent with the government fearing that they could lose their jobs. Bearing all this in mind, Fidesz will need to make sure that its base supporters do not take victory for granted, but fear a close contest and thus do not stay at home, Lakner concludes.

In Heti Válasz, Gábor Török argues that the outcome of the 2014 Parliamentary election will depend on the atitude of the currently undecided voters. At this point, we cannot estimate how many of the undecided have clear preferences that they hide from the pollsters, and it cannot be predicted how those really undecided will make their choices in the next six months, Török contends. He adds that the different projections based on the polls are part of the political campaign themselves. Predictions of a likely two-thirds Fidesz victory may mobilize left-wing voters and discourage some moderate Fidesz supporters from voting, Török notes.

The Baja by-election has shown that fears of passivity on the right were unfounded, Péter Farkas Zárug writes in Magyar Demokrata. In the local by-election, turnout was higher than at the regular election in 2010, but the close score also suggests that the 2014 election is far from decided, the conservative analyst adds. As from 2014 campaigning on Election Day will be allowed, all major parties will do their best to take their possible sympathizers to the booths by any means, Zárug believes. He speculates that parties will organize all-day festivals, will offer free transportation to the ballot box, and will probably also illegally register voters in order to target those who have not yet cast their ballots.

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