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Further lessons from Hódmezővásárhely

February 28th, 2018

Commentators forge new arguments to prove or disprove the widespread impression that the defeat of the government candidate in the mayoral elections in a Fidesz stronghold carries a strong message about the general elections to be held on April 8.

In his Népszava column, Miklós Hargitai thinks that voters expect no special political programmes from the opposition parties in what he describes as an extraordinary situation. They only expect them not to stand in the way of unity, against the incumbent government’s candidates.

In his Magyar Nemzet editorial, Albert Gazda admits that it will be difficult for the disparate forces of the opposition to unite, but that is their only chance to defeat the government nationwide as they did in one city behind an independent candidate last Sunday. The voters will turn out in record numbers, he believes, and the rest depends on the opposition parties.

In Magyar Hírlap, Ervin Nagy is also convinced that the opposition has a chance to win but calls their potential government a ’horror coalition’. He finds it difficult to imagine how such radically different parties could cooperate to govern Hungary. In an aside, he calls on those who have been denouncing an alleged dictatorship in Hungary to apologise after a strong government candidate could freely be defeated in a major city.

By contrast, Kristóf Trombitás argues on Mandiner that it is practically impossible to repeat what happened in Hódmezővásárhely on a nationwide scale. If opposition parties were to withdraw their candidates from dozens of constituencies, they would betray their own identities and messages, which he believes is ‘mission impossible’.

Csaba Fodor, an adviser to the government, also thinks it would be self-deluding for the opposition to interpret last Sunday’s local election as a model for April 8. On the website of his Nézőpont Institute, he remarks that the national election will be contested in almost all constituencies by competing opposition parties, rather than by one independent candidate with all other opposition parties withdrawing from the race. He also mentions that in Hódmezővásárhely, the election was dominated by local matters rather than the big issue of mass immigration. Nevertheless, he warns pro-government candidates that it would be irresponsible for them to lean back and take their victory for granted.

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