Domestic Politics

Elections in Hungary 2018: Weekly Party Roundup #3

As elections are approaching, Hungary Today is publishing a weekly roundup on each Monday. In the past week, left-wing opposition parties continued to form alliances and consolidate their positions, while Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition continue to lead in polls amid clouds of a corruption scandal within the Prime Minister’s family. 

 

FIDESZ – KDNP

Viktor Orbán’s ruling coalition is coming under growing pressure and criticism over an investigation conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) which implicates István Tiborcz, the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, in a corruption scandal involving EU contracts.

A recent survey by the left-leaning Republikon Institute found that support for Fidesz had dropped by 4% over the course of January, while opposition parties Jobbik and MSZP both saw support grow by 2%.

By contrast, according to a recent article on financial news site Portfolio, which summarized data from three surveys by Ipsos, Medián, and Tárki, support for Fidesz is at a seven-year high.

Reacting to the news that Párbeszéd party co-leader Gergely Karácsony had officially been chosen as the joint prime ministerial candidate for left-wing opposition parties MSZP and Párbeszéd, Fidesz claimed that the politician is really “George Soros’ candidate for the prime ministry.”

 

MSZP – Párbeszéd

Over the weekend, the Socialist Party (MSZP) held its official party conference over the weekend, where cooperation with the Párbeszéd (Dialogue) Party was finalized, and Párbeszéd co-leader Gergely Karácsony was officially announced as the alliance’s candidate for prime minister.

József Simon, a leader of MSZP’s branch in the southern Hungarian city of Pécs, resigned his party membership following his posting of a photo of Viktor Orbán which had been photoshopped to look like the Prime Minister had been shot in the head.

In a teary-eyed press conference György Hiesz, MSZP’s parliamentary candidate for the town of Gyöngyös, announced his withdrawal from the race and his resignation from the party. The only reason that, Hiesz, who is also mayor of Gyöngyös, gave for his resignation was that “there are some things that are morally unacceptable.”

Although he was in attendance at MSZP’s party congress, Liberal Party leader Gábor Fodor failed to have his name placed on the opposition alliance’s joint list. In response, Fodor argued that this slight was the result of “all sorts of political infighting within the Socialist Party.”

In an attempt to gain support among ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Karácsony and MSZP leader Gyula Molnár toured Transylvania earlier this month, although they failed to gain the support of local political leaders.

JOBBIK

A recent survey by the pro-Fidesz, government-funded think tank Századvég found that the vast majority of voters had a negative opinion of Gábor Vona’s statements in a recently-surfaced video. In the clip, Vona can be seen at an event in Turkey, where he purportedly swears fealty to Allah. This triggered a series of articles in pro-Fidesz media outlets implying that Vona had links to terrorist groups, which in turn has led to a libel suit in which these news sites have been ordered to pay the Jobbik leader a total of 3 million forints (9600 euros) for publishing libelous statements.

A number of recent surveys show that Jobbik’s overall popularity has continued to grow over the course of the past month.

Once again, Jobbik has begun campaigning in favor of abolishing daylight-savings time, an issue which MP Lajos Kepli has raised in the past as well.

 

LMP

Last week, reports surfaced that, While it has ruled out working with other parties in the past, Bernadett Szél, LMP’s PM candidate (who some view as the most promising left-wing alternative to Viktor Orbán), recently wrote a letter to Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr about “a potential alliance for the upcoming 2018 elections.”

Following Fidesz’s earlier walk-out from a National Security Committee meeting on the supposed “Soros Plan,” ruling party MPs last week boycotted another such planned meeting due to Szél’s attendance.

In a press conference, LMP said that, if elected, they would reinstate a multi-tier personal income tax system. The green party also criticized Fidesz’s single-tier system as a “failure” that had only succeeded in leaving “a huge hole in [Hungary’s] finances.”

 

MOMENTUM

In response to LMP leader Bernadett Szél’s letter regarding about a “potential alliance,” Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr cautiously signaled his party’s willingness to cooperate with LMP, despite its official stance against such collaboration. In a press release, the young politician wrote that Momentum is “open to dialogue between the two parties, but we would like to concentrate first and foremost on voters.”

Wading into the upcoming local referendum in Budapest’s 7th District, that would force bars in the city’s most popular party destination to close by midnight, Momentum has begun collecting signatures in order to “save the party district.”

The State Audit Office has reportedly sent a letter to Fekete-Győr demanding that the Momentum leader apologize for comments he made claiming that the Office is directly under Orbán’s control, and threatening to sue him if he does not. Fekete-Győr’s comments came as the Audit Office issued fines to a number of opposition parties for various infractions, while neither Orbán’s ruling Fidesz nor its coalition partner KDNP were audited.

 

Democratic Coalition (DK)

Left-wing opposition party DK, led by former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, has announced that they have reported János Lázár, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to police for his supposed role in the ongoing corruption controversy surrounding István Tiborcz, Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law.

Last week, DK announced that it was willing to withdraw candidates from a number of races to the benefit of green party LMP, if Bernadett Szél’s group was willing to do the same for DK if necessary.

István Vágó, a DK politician of Jewish origin, came into controversy when a Facebook comment emerged in which he criticized the EMMI Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation of harming the interests of Hungarian Jews by cooperating with the Fidesz government. In addition, Vágó wrote that he is an atheist and does not care about any God, adding “I cannot bear the sight of Jews in hats, caftans and with payots, nor do I feel the least sense of belonging to them.”