Governing parties have lost their two-thirds majority in Parliament after a by-election held in the Veszprém constituency in western Hungary on Sunday was won by an independent candidate backed by left-wing parties.
According to preliminary results published on the National Election Office’s website after 97 per cent of the votes cast were processed, 41-year-old Zoltán Kész received 42.72 per cent of the vote, ahead of Fidesz-KDNP’s Lajos Némedi with 33.62 per cent, Jobbik candidate Andrea Varga-Damm with 14.11 per cent and Ferenc Gerstmár with 4.57 per cent. Voter turnout was significantly lower than a year ago. The result means that Fidesz-KDNP has lost the two-thirds supermajority it has held in the National Assembly since 2010. Mr. Kész has already indicated that he does not intend to join any existing parliamentary caucus.
The election was called after Tibor Navracsics, the previous Fidesz MP for the constituency, was apointed European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport in late 2014. Although officially running as an independent candidate, Mr. Kész was supported by left-wing parties MSZP, DK, Együtt and PM, as well as the extraparliamentary Hungarian Liberal Party and MoMa.
An English teacher and sports journalist by training, Mr. Kész is the director of the libertarian Free Market Foundation and previously headed the Veszprém branch of American Corner, a US-funded network dedicated to spreading American culture and values. As an opposition activist, he organised several recent anti-government protests in his hometown despite being a Fidesz member for a brief period in 2004.
A further by-election will be held in a nearby constituency on 12 April due to the death of Fidesz MP Jenő Lasztovicza in January.
photo: nepszava.hu/Gergő Tóth