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Will Fidesz keep its 2/3 majority?

March 31st, 2014

Left-wing commentators still hope that a crushing Fidesz victory can be prevented. In that case, they suggest, any complaints from the Left about the new election rules will seem more credible. Their right-wing counterparts meanwhile are pulling out all the stops to mobilise their readers for one last push. They argue that the latest scandals have stripped the Left of its last shreds of credibility.

In Népszabadság, Ákos Tóth believes PM Viktor Orbán’s goal is to repeat his two thirds majority at the 6 April elections. First and foremost, he says, because an overwhelming majority would “morally absolve him from all that has happened” over the past four years. Another reason, he suspects is that the Prime Minister would hate to be compelled to “govern in alliance with Jobbik”. A simple majority would of course be sufficient to form a government, but the high number of pivotal laws adopted since 2010 would leave only narrow elbow room for any future government, for the two thirds majority needed to amend them would require uneasy compromises. Just as Fidesz called the latest “Peace March” on Saturday in order to secure its two thirds parliamentary majority, Tóth argues in a plea to the participants of the opposition rally on Sunday, the Left must show unity and make “a last ditch effort” to make people understand that they must decide whether or not to resign themselves to “the unacceptable – to shame”.

In Magyar Narancs, editor Endre B. Bojtár hopes that the uneven chances offered to the sides by the new electoral rules and “cheating by the Orbán regime” will turn into nails in the coffin of that regime after the elections. No matter how overwhelming the victory of Fidesz, he continues, the legitimacy of the new government will be undermined “by the breaches of law that have been proven or have just happened”. However, opposition complaints will be especially credible if Fidesz wins with a narrow majority, as in that case it could be argued that the right-wing victory is a result of fraud.

In Heti Világgazdaság (print version), Gábor Juhász praises the Kúria (Supreme Court) for a series of rulings banning political ads by local councils or the government during the campaign. However, he remarks, ever newer attempts are being made to circumvent the rules, and by the time they are all condemned by the courts, the election will be over.

In its editorial on the day of the latest pro-government “Peace March”, one of the organisers, Magyar Hírlap’s editor István Stefka  explains that  what is at stake at the elections next week is whether or not “we allow the discredited faces of the past, the post-communists of the Gyurcsány coalition… to come back and plunder Hungary again, sell its wealth to foreigners and fill their own pockets”. The domestic left wing, he claims, has allied itself with the international world of finance to discredit Hungary. At the end of 2011 an international attempt to overthrow PM Orbán “was foiled by the first Peace March”. Now, he concludes, Peace Marchers must show that they are still ready to stick together and show “the kind of strength and vocation which makes life worth living”.

In Demokrata (print edition),Péter Farkas Zárug calls the present moral condition of the Left “the shame of Hungarian democracy as a whol”. The revelations of János Zuschlag (see BudaPost, 2011 though 2014) and the latest scandal of Gábor Simon, the former number two in the Socialist Party hierarchy (see BudaPost, February through March, 2014), suggest that if one day the right-wing government will have to account for its “real or alleged misdeeds”, it will certainly not have to be judged by “such a rotten, morally imbecilic and unscrupulous Left”. Another, cleaner alternative is absent, therefore “the Hungarian political community as a whole feels there is no credible alternative to Viktor Orbán and Fidesz”, Zárug concludes.

In Magyar Nemzet (print edition) György Pilhál finds it revealing that when speacking to an audience of Socialist activists, MSZP party manager Árpád Velez complained about a former ally, rather than the governing right wing. In a tape recorded at a meeting behind closed doors and released last week to Index, Árpád Velez said that while in government the Socialists had to fill Free Democrat pockets, in order to prevent the liberal press from criticising them. Next time, he continued, they should lay more emphasis on satisfying their own people. Pilhál says the case can well be likened to that of Ferenc Gyurcsány’s famous lie-speech in Őszöd, in 2006, which triggered the downfall of the Left in Hungary.

On HVG online, Árpád W. Tóta, who just a few days ago argued that rather than staying at home, otherwise sceptical voters should choose the lesser evil (by which he obviously meant the left-wing alliance), now comments on the Velez tape under the headline “These are exactly the same people”. The impression one gets from the tape, he says is that “these people have no other intention than to get their own people paid, which makes it utterly useless to change the government”. But of course, he concludes, it would be pretty astonishing if the Socialists managed to win. Offering the same thing whilst too impotent to achieve it “gives no competitive edge”. In order for the Left to have one, he suggests, Velez should immediately disappear from the united left-wing ballot. (Ballots have already been printed, and any changes could only be introduced by hand. Mr Velez is No. 17 on the list, which practically guarantees him a seat in the new Parliament).

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