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Opposition candidate elected Mayor of Hódmezővásárhely

February 27th, 2018

Critics of the government welcome the victory of an independent challenger to the incumbent local Fidesz administration as a sign that the government forces may be defeated at the national election on April 8. Pro-government analysts take the surprising defeat of their man as a serious warning.

On MandinerMilán Constantinovits interprets the result of the Hódmezővásárhely election as proof that the frequent accusation that Hungary is little more than a dictatorship is groundless. On the other hand, he reminds the ruling party of its over-confidence 16 years ago when it was voted out of government in a surprise election outcome.

‘The corpse suddenly sat up,’ Zsolt Bayer writes in Magyar Idők. When everyone thought that the fragmented opposition had absolutely no chance of becoming a real contender, they suddenly won an election in a Fidesz stronghold. That happened in the worst moment, he says, just a few weeks before the national elections. But the warning also came at the best moment for Fidesz, he adds, to realise that something was mishandled in Hódmezővásárhely.

In Magyar NemzetSzabolcs Szerető compares what has happened to the victory of the Fidesz mayoral candidate in the city of Pécs in 2009, which proved a harbinger of its sweeping nationwide victory a year later. The shock electoral result will certainly mobilise both sides ahead of the April general election, he writes. The main lesson of the Hódmezővásárhely mayoral election is that the myth of Fidesz’s invincibility is shattered, Szerető suggests..

‘The voters have sent us a strong message’, a columnist writing under the pseudonym ‘Paranoid Android’ warns on Pesti Srácok. ‘Voters and us live in two parallel realities’, he continues, and warns the governing side that it is they who have to change because ‘the voters won’t’. ‘I am seriously scared!’ he exclaims. The right-wing community, he argues, must redesign their dialogue with the electorate in order to ‘win the hearts of the majority of Hungarians’.

On his Facebook page Ágoston Sámuel Mráz predicts that after the first triumphant days, opposition leaders will start quarrelling on what follows from the result at Hódmezővásárhely. The logical solution would be for all opposition candidates to withdraw and find attractive independent candidates in all 106 constituencies. They only have a few days left to do so, the leading pro-government analyst remarks.

After having neglected his blog for years, Gábor Török now believes that the election at Hódmezővásárhely has changed the psychological climate for the opposition. It may now believe it is playing on a new playing field where a new game is to start and where its position is not hopeless any more – if it goes down the pitch with intelligent tactics and a brain in its head.

On 444, Péter Magyari draws the lesson from what happened on Sunday that full opposition unity is workable, which means that opposition parties should agree on backing one single anti-government candidate in individual constituencies. That is not fully feasible because they also have to gather votes with their national party lists, and in order to run as parties, they must have a minimum of 27 individual candidates nationally in at least nine different counties. However, four may reasonably hope to cross the 5% parliamentary threshold and that would require at least 108 opposition candidates altogether, while there are only 106 individual constituencies. 

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