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March 15 kicks off the electoral campaign

March 19th, 2018

Commentators continue to analyse the Prime Minister’s speech on the anniversary of the 1848 revolution, and the chances of the fragmented opposition in the forthcoming parliamentary election.

On 24.hu, Attila Kálmán suggests that for the first time in many years, the supporters of the government are nervous about the possible outcome of the election on 8 April. He spent hours among the several tens of thousands of government supporters in front of the Parliament building and reports that the mood was sombre. People often referred to the latest documents published in Magyar Nemzet, he writes, about murky mandates given by unknown people to Lajos Kósa, the Cabinet Minister in charge of big-city developments, to handle huge amounts of money. Although apparently nothing came of it all, this latest episode in a series of alleged corruption cases was apparently of concern to the people who gathered to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech, Kálmán writes.

On 444, Péter Magyari accuses the Prime Minister of having nothing left to say apart from threatening his adversaries. Referring to the corruption charges against his colleagues, the Prime Minister told the March 15 crowd that he would not tackle such allegations in the campaign but would ‘get even, politically, morally and legally’ after the elections. Magyari takes this sentence as a threat to retaliate against political opponents.

Political scientist Gábor Török thinks the Prime Minister made a mistake by talking about ‘settling of accounts’ with his detractors after the election. By not specifying exactly what he meant, that phrase he gave his opponents an opportunity to accuse him of undemocratic intentions. Otherwise, he continues, the several tens of thousands of people who took part in the ‘Peace March’ and the pro-government rally with the Prime Minister did put on an impressive show of force. This amounted to a strong response to the corruption allegations levelled against the government over the past few weeks, he remarks, although he finds the Prime Minister’s campaign message too one-sided. It is all about an international project to flood Europe with immigrants, allegedly promoted by George Soros’s NGOs, while the government says nothing about its positive achievements over the past eight years.

By contrast, in Magyar Idők (print version), Péter Farkas Zárug suggests that a responsible government always has to concentrate on the crucial issues of its time and describes the Prime Minister’s speech as extremely effective. He also remarks that the same words could have been pronounced 20 years ago by writer István Csurka, an anti-western right-wing rival of Fidesz, which at that time was fighting a tough an ultimately successful battle to win the elections against a strong left-liberal incumbent government. As for the Prime Minister’s widely criticised sentence about ‘getting even’ with his detractors, Zárug predicts that its meaning will be anybody’s guess until after the elections.

On Mandiner, Kristóf Trombitás thinks the government side is recovering from the  shock of the Hódmezővásárhely mayoral by-election where they lost to an independent candidate supported by all opposition forces. Since then, Trombitás writes, opposition supporters who want to get a clear indication from their leaders are getting a cacophonic mixture of contradictory messages from party chairmen which makes it impossible for them to understand whether they want to unite all opposition forces against the incumbent government or not.

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