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User guides for political rivals

February 3rd, 2020

As both Fidesz and the opposition brace themselves for the 2022 elections, two authors ponder what might make each successful.

In Magyar Nemzet, Tamás Fricz warns his Fidesz party that the joint candidates of the otherwise disparate forces of the opposition may prove a real challenge for the candidates of the government side. In response, he proposes a four-point strategy for Fidesz to follow before the actual electoral campaign starts in two years’ time. Firstly, he recommends that the governing party return to its original idea of a Civic Hungary. Fidesz has beensuccessful, he explains, in addressing national and Christian values to differentiate themselves from their opponents. But the middle class is growing fast, and it is only that social strata which can sustain a long-standing government. The slogan of Civic Hungary might be appealing to such people, Fricz suggests. Secondly, he urges the government side to adopt for itself the protection of the environment, which at present is monopolised by left liberal forces. Fidesz could successfully win over the younger generation by opposing a more sober variant of environmentalism to the radical left-wing interpretation, he continues. Thirdly, he proposes simple and sincere attitudes if Fidesz wants to win over the new generation. As paradoxical as it may seem, he argues, the popularity of Bernie Sanders among young Americans shows that being simple and sincere pays off. Finally, Fricz believes modern online and media communication technologies, in which Fidesz already excels, must be coupled with old-style door to door communication to create personal contacts with the electorate.

In his Heti Világgazdaság (print) editorial, Péter Hamvay wonders “where are Hungary’s sardines?” He believes, based on his colleagues’ report from northern Italy, that the movement of young left-wingers who packed city squares to prove their sardine-logo, played a significant role in halting the right-wing advance in the traditionally left-ruled Emilia Romagna region in last Sunday’s regional election. Meanwhile in Hungary, the right-wing has been governing for almost 10 years and is continuously improving its tactics. The opposition will have an uphill struggle to win the next elections, he continues, because the government has recognised that its patriotic and anti-migrant rhetoric will not win over educated city dwellers. To harvest their votes, the government is picking on new topics like the environment, and is looking for serious professionals who may be attractive to hesitant members of the middle class or intellectuals. The newly elected Fidesz mayor of Győr (see BudaPost, January 29), for instance, is a well-respected and politically moderate cardiologist, while a city transport expert who despite his allegiance to the Prime Minister has never joined political controversies, has been appointed to work out the government’s strategy for the city of Budapest after the capital was won over by the opposition in October. Hamvay thinks the opposition needs something new to propel itself to victory in two years’ time, and that missing something might be “Hungarian sardines”.

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