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Jobbik’s good showing in polls

March 3rd, 2014

A political analyst commenting on the latest polls contends that far-right Jobbik has increased its support as a result of its more moderate image. A left-wing columnist accuses Fidesz of legitimizing Jobbik’s racist language and thereby strengthening the radical right-wing party. Another left-wing commentator is intrigued by the propensity among left-wing voters to feel nostalgic about the Kádár era.

According to Tárki’s latest poll, the constituency of the left-wing parties has dropped from 25 to 20 per cent of the electorate, probably as a result of the latest scandal involving Socialist party vice chairman Gábor Simon (See BudaPost, February 6, 10 and 17). Fidesz is supported by 49 per cent of decided voters, while Jobbik stands at 19 per cent. LMP is supported by 6 per cent of voters likely to participate in the ballot. 40 per cent would prefer a different government, while 39 per cent would be happy with the current one. In Magyar Demokrata’s representative survey, 55 per cent are said to be dissatisfied, and only 34 per cent are mostly satisfied with the performance of the government.

Népszava’s Iván Andrassew contends that Jobbik can easily increase its popularity in a country where “children suck racism with their mother’s milk”. On the basis of anecdotal evidence, the left-wing commentator speculates that anti-Gypsy and anti-Semitic prejudice is widespread in Hungarian society. Andrassew claims that Fidesz is trying to take the wind out of the sails of Jobbik by co-opting its rhetoric. The governing party, however, is unsuccessful in wooing and moderating racist voters dissatisfied with the policies of the government, Andrassew believes.

Jobbik is not a party of losers, Dániel Mikecz writes in Heti Világgazdaság (print edition). Although Jobbik is often considered to have poor and underprivileged constituencies at its base, Tárki’s polls suggest otherwise, the young political scientist points out, noting that Jobbik is overrepresented among young generations and urban middle class male voters. Jobbik’s recent efforts to strike a more moderate tone have proved successful, Mikecz believes. He continues by noting that the party is being fought from the right by new radical fringe movements including the Hungarian Dawn founded by two former Jobbik MPs, which contributes to the success of the new image the radical rightist party intends to radiate ahead of the elections. That rebranding attempt might help them win over right-leaning middle class voters unhappy with the government, Mikecz concludes.

In a separate survey, Tárki explored the attitudes of Hungarians towards the past 25 years of democratic governance. According to this poll, 47 per of Hungarians consider the democratic turn a success, while 39 think it was not worth it. Fidesz and Jobbik voters are more positive about the past 25 years than left-wing voters.

There is little consistency in voters’ worldviews, Péter Pető comments in Népszabadság. Pető finds it puzzling that left-wing voters who are more likely to nurture nostalgia for the Kádár regime support the parties of the left-wing opposition which claim to represent democratic values. The data suggest that voters tend to opt for the party which they used to support in the past, or to follow their emotions rather than any rational deliberation, Pető concludes.

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