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Weeklies see election outcome as uncertain

March 5th, 2018

Analysts tend to believe that thanks to the impact of the Hódmezővásárhely mayoral election, opposition parties will probably find a way to field a single candidate in most individual constituencies. This would enable them to mount a serious challenge to Fidesz.

In Élet és Irodalom, Zoltán Ádám argues that left-wing forces should set their aversion to Jobbik aside, hoping not only to defeat the incumbent government’s candidate in as many constituencies as possible, but also to win the former radical right-wing party over to the defence of what he calls ‘fundamental democratic values’. The liberal economist and sociologist things integrating Jobbik into the ‘democratic opposition’ to Fidesz will help create a left-right consensus on a ’democratic minimum’. He reads the defeat of the pro-government candidate at the Hódmezővásárhely mayoral election as proof that Fidesz is unable to broaden its electoral base, which has shifted from urban and educated layers to a predominantly rural, elderly constituency with lower average schooling. With such a base, he thinks, the current regime is not sustainable in the long run, and the Hódmezővásárhely election may be a signal that the end is nearer than one would think.

In Magyar Narancs, István Bundula is convinced that parties which are otherwise strongly antagonistic to each other will ultimately find a way to withdraw their candidates or neglect to campaign for them, if a candidate for another opposition party appears more likely to win. He welcomes the decision of those left-wing parties which have finally realised the need for such cooperation with Jobbik. Bundula admits that the voters of these parties would formerly have found it difficult to stomach supporting a different candidate. By now, however, they have been so antagonised by the government that they may choose any opposition candidate who has a chance to beat his pro-government rival. In a hint at how difficult such disparate forces will find it to govern together if they do win the election, he concludes warning that ‘this (victory) will be the easier part’.

In 168 óra, Ervin Tamás also feels that the wind is turning in favour of the opposition, albeit slowly. He predicts that the rest of the campaign will be fought by the government side around the immigration issue and acknowledges that they have a sizeable advantage in that field. They were quick to realise the importance of the problem when the mass influx into Europe started three years ago, while on the opposition side the extent of the crisis was played down. At present however, no one wants to pull down the border fence built by the government nor does anyone plan to invite ‘immigrants’. Nevertheless, that propaganda may still be effective. Although it did not prevent the pro-government candidate from losing the local election at Hódmezővásárhely, Tamás remarks.

In his Hetek editorial, Gábor Gavra interprets the Hódmezővásárhely result as the defeat of a pro-government candidate by an opponent who was situated politically to his right. One lesson he draws from that is that the government has been losing support among right-wingers. Another lesson he addresses to the left wing which should discard the illusion that their efforts were rewarded by the population in Hódmezővásárhely.

In Heti Válasz, Gábor Borókai finds it surprising that although Fidesz is by far better equipped to govern the country than its opponents, it still managed to lose an election in an important city which has always been its stronghold. His reading of the result is that while the government has managed to keep the public deficit down and while living standards have increased, it has not invested enough ‘into being liked’. It appears that there is a lot of animosity around, and the only question is whether that discontent will coalesce into one single force. If yes, the government may be taken over by new forces. They may prove to be less professional, but as Hódmezővásárhely has shown, this is no time for rational decisions, Borókai muses.

In Demokrata, András Bencsik warns that while Fidesz is still by far the strongest party, it has lost support among decided voters and nobody has explained why. He also asks whether ‘the right’ has a scenario for a potential situation in which opposition parties will only have one candidate in all constituencies. He believes that is a strong possibility because opposition constituencies tend to reward efforts aimed at unity and therefore ’we will find ourselves in danger’. Bencsik asks which ‘sin’ the right-wing has committed, to dissolve its hitherto persistent popularity. He urges a quick answer to this question. Meanwhile he calls on the pro-government side to hoist the flag of love and unity. It is under that double slogan that he and his friends will hold another ’Peace March’ on 15 March in support of the government.


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