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Debate on boycotting the election

January 15th, 2018

Left-wing commentators agree that the opposition has little chance to defeat Fidesz in the next election, and wonder whether the Left should boycott the ballot.

In Népszava, Miklós Hargitai contends that the political playing field is so uneven that the opposition has no chance to challenge Fidesz. He wonders if it makes any sense for them to run in the April election at all. The left-wing columnist suggests that voters have access to information and public debates only through the government media. In a remark on the party financing fines, Hargitai adds that the opposition parties also have no access to non-governmental financial funding to reach voters. In light of all this, Hargitai concludes that by participating in the election the opposition would implicitly legitimize an “election that has already been rigged.”

Writing in the same daily, Róbert Friss disagrees. He argues that boycotting the elections would play into the hands of Fidesz and secure it unfettered power. The left-liberal pundit agrees that Fidesz has introduced regulations that clearly favour the governing party and make the political playing field unfair and uneven, but he also thinks that the opposition should have stayed away from the election in 2014 if it considered such reforms illegitimate. Friss adds that according to different polls, the majority of voters would prefer to replace Fidesz, and so the opposition can win enough seats to at least stop Fidesz from having a two-thirds majority.

In a front-page editorial, Magyar Narancs speculates that boycotting the elections could have shocking repercussions and ignite large scale systemic changes in the political landscape. In a comment on the party financing fines levied on the opposition parties, the left-wing liberal weekly also accuses the government of using state authorities to silence its opponents. As the opposition parties have no real chance to defeat Fidesz in April, Magyar Narancs thinks that the only way they can have an impact is by boycotting the election.

In their regular joint interview with Heti Válasz, political scientists Gábor Török and Ágoston Sámuel Mráz comment on Mária Vásárhelyi’s call to the opposition to boycott the election (see BudaPost December 27). Török points out that so far, the idea of the boycott proposed by some left-wing pundits and intellectuals has not been embraced by any opposition politicians, and thus it should not be taken too seriously at this point. Mráz thinks that the whole idea is ridiculous, as the opposition’s decision to stay away from the election would guarantee a Fidesz victory.

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