Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Should Fidesz fear Jobbik?

February 16th, 2015

As Fidesz’ support declines and Jobbik’s base strengthens, pundits from across the political spectrum wonder if and how Fidesz should react to the emerging radical right-wing challenge.

According to the latest party preference statistics by the Ipsos pollster company, Fidesz has 21 per cent support in the total electorate. While the governing party lost 1.1 million voters, Jobbik has increased its base and now it stands at 16 per cent, followed by the MSZP (11 per cent), Democratic Coalition (4 per cent) and the LMP (3 per cent). Another survey using a different methodology from Századvég, however, claims that Fidesz’ support is still 30 per cent in the total electorate.

It is not very surprising that Fidesz lost popularity after the elections, but the trends are worrying, Zsuzsanna Körmendy writes in Magyar Nemzet. The conservative commentator suspects that people who do not in their daily lives experience the improvement of the economic position of the country are becoming dissatisfied with the governing party and some of them are opting for Jobbik rather than the left-wing opposition parties. Körmendy finds it alarming that 1.3 million Hungarians would vote for the radical right-wing Jobbik. Instead of hasty policy making decisions which annoy voters, Körmendy recommends that the government slows down in order to stop its decline.

In Heti Válasz, editor-in-chief Gábor Borókai recommends that the government reminds itself of the main strategic aims it once had. One should not forget about the objectives Viktor Orbán identified in 1998 – building a firm and sovereign Hungary with strong ties to the West, Borókai thinks. As for the recent decline in Fidesz’ support, Borókai notes that after defeating the post-communist Left for a second time, one of the most important missions of Fidesz has been completed, and the party is left without a common aim that it could unite around. Another reason for hasty and directionless policy making is that PM Orbán has been preoccupied with geopolitical issues and his party has yet to find a capable person who could be trusted to take care of all other issues, Borókai concludes.

In the online edition of the same weekly, István Dévény contends that Fidesz had no real reason to be concerned while Jobbik’s support still lagged far behind its own. But now Fidesz has only 400,000 more voters than the far-right party, this should ring the alarm bells, Dévény believes. He wonders if and when Fidesz will have the energy to fight the emerging Jobbik while the governing party is involved in a dispute with Lajos Simicska, a former pro-Fidesz media mogul.

Csaba Tóth, director of the liberal Republikon think tank contends that Jobbik has capitalized on increasing anti-Roma sentiments and corruption scandals. The radical party has also been increasingly successful in addressing centrist constituencies by striking a more moderate tone, Tóth adds. He goes on to speculate that Fidesz has until now not been harsh on Jobbik, since Fidesz wanted to maintain its centrist image, for which it needed a party on its right too. As Jobbik wooed voters mostly from the Left, its emergence has also divided and weakened the opposition which is again beneficial for Fidesz, Tóth remarks. He concludes by suggesting that the current situation is ideal for Fidesz, and it will not likely target Jobbik any more than it used to do in the past.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Gáspár Miklós Tamás suspects that Jobbik’s success is due to its anti-establishment rhetoric. Jobbik has become increasingly popular because the Left has been dominated by pro-market ideas and despite what Tamás considers its increasingly radical rhetoric, Fidesz is also seen by voters as a mainstream party that accepts basic norms of Western liberal capitalism. Despite the fact that Jobbik wants to cut welfare spending, it has increased its support in poor regions and among less educated voters due to its anti-Roma image, Tamás notes.

Tags: , , ,