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Weeklies on electoral prospects

February 5th, 2018

With just two months to go before the next parliamentary elections, the editorial writers of Hungary’s political weeklies agree that the incumbent governing force is the big favourite. Just how they respond to that situation, however, varies between combativeness and resignation.

In Demokrata, András Bencsik describes the past almost 8 years of the right-wing government as a series of outstanding successes in many fields, even including the public health service which according to the opposition is a resounding failure. He urges readers to take part in the elections on 8 April in order to guarantee the continuity of what he calls ‘a marvellous upswing’, and also to achieve the largest possible majority for the government in Parliament. In contrast to Hungary, he continues, in many European countries the population is unable to take resolute decisions. He welcomes the result of the presidential elections in the Czech Republic where ‘the camp of conformists, though far from negligible, was defeated by ‘the patriotic majority’. It was a very close call, nonetheless, Bencsik remarks. In Germany, he continues, the stalemate continues and the ‘brainwashed German democracy’ is left with two options – one bad, one even worse. Hungary must avoid such a fate, he concludes.

In a sombre mood Sándor Révész muses in his Heti Világgazdaság op-ed about the choices politically minded liberal intellectuals are left with once Hungary becomes what he calls ‘a dictatorship’. He admits that life is better for those who don’t care about politics than it was before 2010, but only because it is always better to live after a crisis than during a crisis. This is why he believes most of the two thirds of the population who don’t support the incumbent government say they will not vote for anyone. He consoles those who, like himself, are passionate about politics, with the possibility of enjoying themselves in their private lives rather than giving in to depression.

Magyar Narancs acknowledges that its idea of a wholesale united electoral coalition against Fidesz is dead. As things stand before the elections, the editors write in their weekly lead article, there will be four moderately significant and two insignificant party lists competing with each other and Fidesz for the 93 mandates to be distributed among party lists. The advantage of this fragmentation is that voters can cast their ballots for their preferred parties without being compelled to also vote for allies they dislike. In addition, the individual parties will be measured in a way which is more convincing than opinion polls. The problem is, the authors explain, that all these groups are also competing in the 106 individual constituencies where the winner is selected in a first past the post system. It seems obvious therefore that they have to step down in each other’s favour in order to beat the government candidate. The editors suggest that the parties are preparing to do just that, with an elderly MSZP-DK candidate running against LMP front-runner Bernadett Szél at Budakeszi, and will probably be withdrawn in exchange for a similar gesture by the LMP, say in Pécs, where the Socialists along with another four parties stand behind economist Tamás Mellár, an independent candidate. The LMP candidate in that constituency, Lóránt Keresztes is number six on his party’s national list and therefore can hope for a safe seat in Parliament even if he withdraws from the Pécs contest. Magyar Narancs worries however that in all the left-wing parties there are people who, for personal or political reasons, oppose such electoral cooperation with the rest. The authors do not even mention the possibility of overt or tacit cooperation between the left-wing parties and Jobbik.

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