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No pre-electoral TV debate in sight

March 20th, 2014

Left-wing commentators accuse Fidesz and PM Orbán of cowardice for not willing to participate in a public debate of candidates for the premiership before the April elections.

Leaders of several opposition parties have challenged Prime Minister Orbán to public TV duels or a debate with all 18 parties running nationwide, but Fidesz has rejected the proposals and says it sees no credible challenger to the Prime Minister among the candidates. Analysts see the prospect of a duel as a last chance for the Left to turn the tables on Fidesz in the campaign, or at least bruise the governing party for dodging the challenge. This would not be the first time that no TV duels take place before an election, as no such debate took place between Mr Orbán and Mr Mesterházy in 2010 either.

PM Orbán is not willing to publicly dispute his party’s program for fear that he could lose support, Gábor Horváth suspects in Népszabadság. The left-wing columnist contends that being well ahead in the polls, Fidesz wants to minimize risk, and thus avoids discussing any controversial issues as well as public debates before the elections. In a televised debate it is very easy to make a mistake which could cost votes, Horváth remarks. In his concluding remark, he suggests that PM Orbán “wants to secure a life-long tenure”, which, according to Horváth “amounts to dictatorial rule”.

In Népszava editor-in-chief Péter Németh contends that Mr Orbán is reluctant to publicly debate with the opposition candidates because he wants to avoid being defeated again in a battle of ideas. The left-wing commentator suggests that the MSZP won the 2006 election thanks to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s performance in the TV debate with Viktor Orbán. PM Orbán hides himself away, rather than publicly facing the fact that he has no credible program, Németh believes.

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