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The balance sheet of the migration dispute

June 15th, 2015

Commentators ponder whether the dispute over migration will strengthen or weaken the governing party, and if the opposition can capitalize on the indignation stirred up by the government’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The government’s campaign against immigration will backfire, Tamás Mészáros suspects in Népszava. The left-wing commentator recalls that opponents of the Orbán government’s anti-immigrant billboards (see BudaPost June 9) in just two days gathered 30 million Forints to launch a satirical counter-campaign. Mészáros predicts that messages sent out by Fidesz are alienating even the core constituencies of the centre-right party.

Writing in Népszabadság, Balázs Böcskei fears that the call on the Left to tear down the government’s anti-immigration posters plays into the hands of Fidesz. The use of nonviolent but nonetheless unlawful action as part of civil disobedience gives an opportunity for Fidesz to label the Left as ‘radical’, the left-wing political analyst thinks. Moreover, the debate on issues of migration diverts public attention from government corruption, Böcskei adds. Although the protest against the governments’ anti-immigrant rhetoric provides some visibility to the Left and may help them unite around a moral issue, he suggests, the opposition has so far not come up with any credible migration policy messages. While the Left harshly criticizes the government’s stance, anti-immigrant sentiments are high both in Hungary and throughout Europe, Böcskei thinks.  In an aside, he raises the possibility that Jobbik’s moderate criticism of both the government’s and the Left’s migration related messages may resonate with average Hungarians.

After months of confusion, the governing parties have regained control over public discourse, János Zila contends in Magyar Hírlap. The pro-government political scientist maintains that by keeping the issue of migration on the agenda, the governing forces can connect to voters, since the majority shares the government’s ideas on immigration. Thus, the more the opposition contests the government’s messages, the more the government gains from the public dispute, Zila concludes.

Commenting on recent opinion polls in Magyar Nemzet, Miklós Ugró also thinks that by launching a very public dispute over immigration, Fidesz has stopped its decline. The conservative columnist predicts that, as the migration situation in Europe is bound to deteriorate further, Fidesz’s anti-immigration messages will become increasingly popular.

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