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Repercussions of the local elections

October 28th, 2019

The October 13 municipal elections still dominate the news. Weeklies dissect the ramifications of the election results and their consequences along party lines.

In its summary of the local election results, Heti Világgazdaság writes that Fidesz received 200,000 more votes than in the previous municipal election in 2014. Even in major cities, including Budapest where the governing party lost to opposition candidates, it managed to mobilize more supporters than five years ago. It got over 52 per cent of the ballots nationwide and its voting base increased by about 20 per cent.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Sándor Révész contends that the local election was another devastating blow for the MSZP. The liberal pundit points out that despite the good performance of the joint opposition candidates, the Socialist party received only a sixth of all the votes cast for the opposition. Révész believes that the progressive liberal Momentum and the Democratic Coalition have become the leaders of the Left, while the MSZP has been annihilated. Révész predicts that the MSZP’s voting base will decline further as the Socialist party has an aging constituency.

Magyar Demokrata’s editor in chief András Bencsik labels as ‘idiots’ those young voters who admire former Prime Minister Gyurcsány (see BudaPost October 22). The pro-government commentator finds it bizarre that young voters appear not to care about the still ongoing corruption scandals of the former Left. Bencsik writes that throughout Europe, an increasingly strong patriotic voting body is facing ‘pro-migration idiots who ignore morality and sound reason’.

Writing in the same weekly, István Kovács, an analyst of the pro-government thinktank Center for Fundamental Rights, suspects that Gergely Karácsony, Budapest’s new Mayor will launch a divisive culture war. Kovács thinks that the opposition has no vision other than to defeat PM Orbán, and in the absence of clear policy aims, it will focus on symbolic politics.

In Élet és Irodalom, Zoltán Lakner also attributes the success of opposition candidates in major cities to the opposition parties’ ‘anti-Orbán campaign’. The left-wing analyst notes that this strategy is unlikely to keep supporters discontented with the government. Once in power, opposition mayors can no longer ride the anti-establishment wave, Lakner explains. He adds that the support for the opposition may also evaporate if the new mayors get involved in corruption scandals. But if they use the opportunity wisely, the opposition can create a strong national platform grounded in the municipalities that they took over in October, Lakner concludes.

Magyar Narancs, on the other hand, thinks that it is Fidesz that may start losing ground. The liberal weekly describes the supporters of the governing party as zealots motivated by their unconditional devotion to Prime Minister Orbán; with no principles or ideology, just loyal to their charismatic leader through thick and thin. Magyar Narancs interprets the local election results as a clear indication that the Prime Minister is losing his charm.