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Weeklies’ expectations for the New Year

January 8th, 2024

Opposition-leaning commentators depict a pessimistic image of Hungary’s political future, while their pro-government counterparts hope that the country has left the difficulties of the past two years behind.

In his weekly Magyar Hang column, environmentalist and sociologist András Lányi takes it for granted that Fidesz will score a resounding victory at the European parliamentary elections in June this year. He remarks however that staunch Fidesz supporters only represent about one quarter of Hungarians and therefore the fate of the elections is decided by those who vote for the government because they see no attractive leaders on the opposition side. He doesn’t even exclude the possibility that Fidesz could defeat the opposition in the capital by supporting city transport expert David Vitézy, whom the LMP proposes for the post of Budapest mayor. Such a huge blow, Lányi writes, might finally wake up opposition voters and sweep away the current parties of the opposition which have proven completely unfit for the job.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta is also convinced that Fidesz will be the sure winner of the European parliamentary elections. He ascribes that first of all to the financial superiority of the government side but not without adding the weaknesses of the opposition. He points out that only two opposition parties run a real chance of passing the 5% threshold in the European elections. He suggests that the disparate forces of the opposition should unite in one single party, allowing considerable autonomy to its various components. His problem is that he doesn’t believe the biggest of them, the Democratic Coalition, could be inclusive and tolerant enough to unite the others.

In his first Demokrata editorial in 2024, András Bencsik believes that the New Year will be decisive not just for Hungary but for the whole several-thousand-year-old Western civilisation. He describes the stake of the European parliamentary election not as who wins and who loses but if what he calls dignified European life will get a new chance. He defines that European life as one where history is written peacefully on paper rather than with drones and destruction wrought by rampaging immigrants.

In his New Year editorial in Mandiner, Mátyás Kohán hopes that Hungary is in for better days than last year which was spent fighting problems in the economy and what he calls Brussels’ attempts at starving the country. The first one third of the European funds Hungary is entitled to has been unblocked, and teachers’ wages can finally be raised to decent levels, he remarks. What is even more important, he continues, Hungary’s allies are slowly realising that their policy towards Ukraine is leading nowhere. Thus, Kohán writes, Hungary’s views can finally break out of their isolation, as shown by the outcome of the elections in the Netherlands as well as the results of opinion polls in Germany and Austria. Nevertheless, he doesn’t expect a ‘catharsis’, and would gladly put up with a return to the ‘normality’ of pre-Covid years when Hungary’s economy was steadily growing.


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