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ELECTIONS IN HUNGARY 2018: Weekly Party Roundup #2

By Abraham Vass // 2018.02.05.

As elections are approaching, Hungary Today is publishing a weekly roundup on each Monday. So far, opposition parties are slowly but surely beginning to coordinate and cooperate. If they really want to change government, cooperation will be much needed, as recent surveys show that Fidesz-KDNP has no major contender to compete with at the moment.

Another billboard campaign of Fidesz-KDNP has driven opposition parties discuss their views on the border fence. Furthermore, the governing parties had to explain on two dubious recordings leaked last week. In any case, the campaign can be expected to become fiercer and fiercer.

Fidesz-KDNP

The recording of a controversial speech by László Kövér leaked over the weekend. In it, the Fidesz Speaker of the House admitted that there was “geographic juggling” when the electoral law was changed in 2012, and the electoral districts were decreased and redrawn, “but only as much as in the previous law, created by the Socialists in the ’90s”. He also said that “it’s good when the opposition has no chance”.

Recent surveys agree that Fidesz-KDNP is leading without major contenders, according to the pro-government Nézőpont Institute. According to the think-tank’s survey, PM Orbán is the most popular party chief.

A special session of parliament initiated by radical nationalist Jobbik to debate the “secret acceptance” of 2,300 refugees in the last three years failed to reach quorum on Tuesday, because lawmakers of Fidesz-KDNP boycotted the session.

The governing party has launched another billboard campaign, claiming that opposition leaders, together with George Soros, want to dismantle border fence.Jobbik

Even though Jobbik’s intention is to shift from the radical nationalist label towards being a people’s party, they seem to insist on their strict refugee and migration policy. Not surprisingly, they called Fidesz-KDNP’s billboard campaign a lie, saying that Jobbik was the first to suggest building of the fence.

In another leaked recording, a Fidesz MP, András Tállai could be heard saying that they have always kept an eye on Jobbik’s programme and have tried to carry it out, in order to take the wind out of the radical party’s sails.

MSZP-Párbeszéd

Attila Mesterházy, former president of MSZP, decided to withdraw from the elections in Veszprém in favour of Zoltán Kész, an independent candidate.

Socialist MP Zsolt Molnár, head of the Hungarian parliament’s national security committee, has called another meeting of the body for February 8 after last week’s Fidesz-KDNP walkout.

In reaction to Fidesz-KDNP’s fresh billboard campaign, Gergely Karácsony said that even though he was initially against it, for now he denied that he wants to dismantle border fence, saying that it “ensures a sense of security for many voters”.LMP

Accroding to a recent poll by Závech Research, Bernadett Szél might be the strongest candidate in the opposition.

Bernadett Szél presented the party’s family policy programme. They want to raise the minimum and the average wage, reintroduce progressive taxation, and reform the family subsidy system by, for example, doubling the allowance for families raising one child to provide incentives for having further children. Family allowances and child-care allowances would be raised as well, and new social housing schemes would be introduced.

She commented on Fidesz-KDNP’s billboard campaign as well, denying that she wants to dismantle the fence “because the state of affairs in the country and the world do not allow it.” She added, however, that the Orbán government’s “hate campaign” has to be stopped.

LMP will launch a lawsuit to find out how much the Hungarian government pays for natural gas from Russia. They suspect that the price Hungary pays is above world market price by 20-30%.

Democratic Coalition (DK)

DK is submitting a question to Interior Minister Sándor Pintér querying the number of “foreign criminals” who received Hungarian citizenship as part of a fast-track procedure scheme in recent years. DK estimates that among the more one million people who received citizenship under the scheme, 5,000-6,000 could have been “criminals” without Hungarian roots.

DK leader and former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány has continued to harshly criticize PM Orbán and the government. At a commemoration, he said that the third Hungarian republic has been “dismantled by Orbán’s dictatorship” and that he would “make no deals with those who have ravaged and hijacked the republic”.

Momentum

As mentioned in last week’s party roundup, Momentum seemingly hasn’t been able to find its footing so far, and this is reflected in the results of recent surveys as well, which estimated Momentum support to be around 2-3%.

Együtt

Együtt (Together) is continuing to unilaterally withdraw their candidates in favour of stronger parties, this time in favour of two DK candidates.

Two-Tailed Dog Party (MKKP)

In another stunt, last week the satirical Two-Tailed Dogs distributed food on the Slovak side of the Mária Valéria bridge, which connects Slovakia with Hungary. The aim was to bypass Hungarian law, as authorities often prohibit organizations critical of the government from sharing food publicly.

Since there are more than 200 parties running for the elections, abuses can happen as state funding is relatively high. Police have arrested seven individuals tied to a crime ring that had been conspiring to illegally obtain hundreds of millions of forints in campaign funds by fielding candidates with fake recommendations in the spring general election, tax authority NAV said. Investigators suspect that the crime ring had been planning to run four parties in the election and field candidates using forged recommendation forms to secure state funding for their campaigns. Among them was János Zuschlag, a former Socialist MP who had already served 6 years in prison due to fraud charges.