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Opposition parties still on the back foot

March 25th, 2019

A pro-government and two left-wing liberal commentators find it unlikely that the opposition parties can seize the opportunity offered by the difficulties Fidesz is having with the European People’s Party to defeat the governing party in the near future. Another left-wing columnist is more optimistic, as he thinks that the opposition could successfully mobilize undecided pro-EU voters in the European Parliamentary elections.

On Mozgástér blog, Tamás Lánczi writes that the opposition parties performed a U-turn and abandoned their strategy of boycotting Parliament. The pro-government analyst thinks that the opposition parties have realized that they cannot overthrow the government through the kind of demonstrations and boycotts which were successful in other Eastern European countries. Lánczi suspects that what he calls the opposition’s retreat from ‘aggressive’ means will disappoint their voters, and further erode their popularity.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Sándor Révész thinks that a broad opposition cooperation that includes Jobbik threatens the soul of left-wing liberal parties. The left-liberal columnist finds the opposition parties joint declaration issued on March 15 as void of a clear political vision and values. Révész recalls that the opposition’s declaration fails to mention the rights of refugees, freedom of research and advocacy of same-sex marriage as well as a strong commitment to the free market. Révész believes that the left-wing and liberal opposition parties cannot vocally advocate their core values if they want to cooperate with the far-right Jobbik party – yet without such cooperation they are unlikely to challenge Fidesz. Révész does not make clear whether he finds such a compromise reasonable or morally acceptable.

Writing in Magyar Narancs, László Haskó wonders if the suspension of Fidesz from the European People’s Party will open up a new opportunity for the opposition parties. The liberal commentator interprets the EPP decision as a clear and devastating defeat for what Haskó calls the ‘far-right’ Fidesz. He doubts however that the opposition parties can use the opportunity to mobilize discontented voters. Haskó finds it absurd that that the two main left-wing opposition parties, the MSZP and the Democratic Coalition have started to collect signatures to protest against what they perceive as Fidesz plans to quit the European Union. Haskó believes that this strategy is unlikely to pay off, and calls on the opposition parties to unite and run jointly in the European Parliamentary election to defeat Fidesz.

In Népszava, György B. Nagy quotes the Publicus pollster company’s latest survey, according to which the majority of Hungarians find the suspension of Fidesz from the European People’s Party ‘illegal’. In the poll, 44 per cent of respondents found Fidesz’ suspension ‘more or less outrageous’, while only 35 per cent considered it ‘more or less legitimate’. While the vast majority (85 per cent) of Fidesz voters found the decision unacceptable, the majority of opposition voters agreed with it. 44 per cent of voters without clear political preferences agreed with the decision to suspend Fidesz. As for attitudes towards the European Union,  most Hungarians have a strong attachment to the EU, and agree that Hungary should respect the European Union’s rules. Nagy thinks that these numbers suggests that the opposition parties have better chances to mobilize undecided voters in the European Parliamentary election.

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