As the elections are approaching, Hungary Today is publishing a weekly party roundup each week. Considering that there is less than one week till the upcoming elections, last week was calmer than expected; major changes in the preferences cannot be detected. Discrediting accusations which are often exaggerated are common but a major scandal which could turn things upside down hasn’t erupted so far.
Relevant analysts agree that it is impossible to predict the outcome of the elections for a number of reasons such as: last minute withdrawals, tactical voting, turnout and potential new scandals. Based on the latest surveys left-liberal Republikon Institute (whose leader is an adviser of Gergely Karácsony) however attempted to make predictions. According to them, governing Fidesz-KDNP will get 41% of the total number of votes, Jobbik will get 21%, MSZP-PM 19%, LMP and DK 6-6%, Momentum 3% and Együtt 2%.
While Jobbik still insists on running alone and refusing to withdraw any of its candidates in favor of the other opposition parties, leftist parties’ debate is definitely focusing on withdrawals and position battle with less emphasis on the political program. Analysts say that opposition will need 10-15 victories in the single-member constituencies to avoid Fidesz-KDNP’s two-third majority and 40-45 victories to prevent the ruling alliance’s majority in the National Assembly, which however without coordination, seems impossible. Reminder: because of the particularities of the Hungarian electoral law (which was modified by Fidesz-KDNP in 2010 amid criticism), in 2014, with little more than 44% of the total number of votes, the ruling alliance managed to retain its two-thirds majority in the Parliament.
Political activity is definitely increasing, more and more personalities and organizations are urging eligible citizens to go to vote. Relevant analysts predict a high turnout (potentially above 65%) which would probably favour the bigger opposition parties: Jobbik, LMP or MSZP; while Fidesz and DK will probably have more difficulty to address undecided voters.
Turnout in the elections (1990-2014). Graph: National Election Committee (NVB); via MTI.
It is confirmed now, that the prime-ministerial candidates will engage in a public debate on April 5. Although invited, Viktor Orbán refused to participate.
Governing alliance went on with its negative campaign: PM Orbán and Fidesz-KDNP’s politicians highlighted on several occasions during last week that the elections will decide not only the next government but whether Hungary remained a sovereign power or operated under an “internationalist government established by George Soros”.
Last week, Magyar Nemzet has aired in an article that a Hungarian citizen who is currently part of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s witness protection program may be a key figure involved in embezzling EU funds in Hungary. According to the opposition newspaper, the citizen and the fraud can be linked to Fidesz. You can find our article on the issue here.
According to the latest poll of govt-funded Nézőpont Ins. Viktor Orbán is still the most popular prime-ministerial candidate (50%), the second is Gergely Karácsony 13%, Bernadett Szél got 8%, Gábor Vona 7% and Ferenc Gyurcsány 3%.
Parliament’s national security committee lacked a quorum at its Thursday meeting as its members representing the ruling parties once again stayed away saying that they will not “provide assistance to a campaign move”. They also repeated their earlier protest against LMP’s Bernadett Szél being on the committee, who, as they insisted, “belongs to the Soros network”
At stake in the April 8 election is whether Hungary remains an “emigration country” or it can keep young people from leaving, Gábor Vona said. He added that if elected to govern, Jobbik would reform the health-care system, raise pensions, make men eligible for retirement after 40 years of employment and crack down on corruption. The party’s program is based on “listening to people’s opinions”, he said.
The Central Chief Prosecutor questioned Csanád Szegedi, former MEP of radical nationalist Jobbik, on suspicion that he had cheated with his expense reimbursement from the European Parliament and violated rules of employing assistants between 2009 and 2014. In a statement, the Prosecutor’s Office said that the investigation had been launched at the recommendation of the EU’s antifraud office (OLAF).
MSZP-PM (Hungarian Socialist Party- Dialogue for Hungary)
Without EU funds, Viktor Orbán would not be Hungary’s prime minister today, Gergely Karácsony told. Orbán has been using these funds to operate an “ineffective economic system controlled by an oligarchy”, he said. The prime ministerial candidate said EU funds were there to promote development, not help “the prime minister’s relatives stand on their own two feet.” The mechanism for distributing EU funds in Hungary should be less centralized and more transparent, he added.
MSZP-PM claimed that Hungary’s government is capable only of lies and intimidation, referring to accusations that he planned to dismantle Hungary’s fence at the southern border. “I do not want to tear down the fence,” Karácsony told a press conference, adding that the barrier was an important means for protecting Hungary’s border. He also said the Socialist-Párbeszéd alliance did not support the mandatory introduction of migrant quotas or economic migration. Neither would the alliance back locating migrants in barracks or private homes. At the same time, he noted that during the refugee crisis, the Fidesz government had accommodated refugees in barracks.
LMP (Politics can be different)
The green party has promised comprehensive wage increases to workers employed in the health-care sector adding that if elected they would instantly raise the wages of healthcare employees by 50%.
After accepting recommendations (500 recommendations are to be collected in each constituency per candidate) from Fidesz, the party decided to withdraw János Barta in his constituency and started procedure to exclude him. There is evidence of Fidesz abusing personal data of voters, and “no opposition party should assist in these practices”, LMP said in a statement, adding that any such practices should be reported to the police. Barta then told a radio channel, that he hadn’t ask for it, and he managed to submit the required number beforehand anyway.
Democratic Coalition (DK)
If elected to government, DK will abolish the VAT on internet and cut contribution costs for SMEs, party leader Ferenc Gyurcsány said outlining his party’s economic program. In government, DK will aim to maintain a stable 4% GDP growth rate after the 2020 curbing of EU funds, he said. The party will support companies “using modern technologies which attract investments other than manufacturing plants”, with a 10-year free lease of facilities, he said. Gyurcsány also pledged to cut the VAT on basic foodstuffs and renewable energy sources. Family allowance will be raised to 15,600 forints (EUR 50) per child and the party will put a cap on the eligibility for the family tax discount, he said. He said DK would also guarantee by law that the minimum wage cannot not fall below subsistence level.
Party leader András Fekete-Győr has decided to withdraw in his single-member constituency (Budapest’s 1st- Downtown) in favor of the Socialist candidate.
Famous news outlet Euronews has nominated Fekete-Győr for the European personality of the year title at this year’s edition of the European Leadership Awards.
Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP)
Instead of using it for campaign purposes, the satirical party spends its campaign support on public projects for example cleaning areas or distributing storybooks for children. Accordingly, their latest move was the financial support of the foundation of a Hungarian library in Wales, UK.