In April 2018, Viktor Orbán’s party gained another two-thirds victory at the general elections for the third time. The strong anti-migrant sentiment in Hungarian society, economic prosperity and a fragmented opposition all predicted a Fidesz victory, but the two-thirds majority enabling them to once again alter the Constitution surprised everyone. Since the elections, dilettantism in the Opposition has continued with internal conflicts and party splits.
The popularity of the Socialist Party and the Democratic Coalition has neither decreased nor increased. It has been suggested that the two parties should run jointly in the elections of the European Parliament in the hopes that in doing so they could become the biggest opposition party. The future of this option, however, is rather vague. What more important is that the social-liberal parties haven’t presented any new, innovative notions to impact political discourse or attract the public. They also haven’t launched the rebuilding of their network in rural areas as previously promised. With all of this, stagnation and lack of expansion seem to be the only realistic prospect for them – especially if we consider that their voters are comprised primarily of an aging population.
The once radical Jobbik, which is striving to appear as a central-right party today, had roughly the same result in April as it did four years ago. Yet, the outcome is in sharp contrast with their campaign promise to bring an end to Viktor Orbán’s reign and their inability to pass the 20% threshold, failing to achieve their minimum goal. Only one of their individual candidates won and their other mandates came from the party list. As a consequence, the leadership collectively resigned and Gábor Vona, the previous leader, didn’t take part in the new Presidium. Several members left the party and established a new political organization called ’The Movement of Our Country,’ clearly intending to guide it back to a more radical path. It is a mystery how the voting block of the approximately one million people of Jobbik will be divided between the two political camps. The rivalry may take years, and at the moment, no political guideline and communication can be seen which could produce new topics bringing fresh impetus and growing popularity to the party.
Undoubtedly, it is LMP that faces the most serious trouble within the Opposition thanks to its own maneuvers over the last few months. After the election, the green party underwent the most severe crisis in its history, and it is still not over. In a climax resulting from internal conflicts, Bernadett Szél, LMP’s Prime Minister candidate quit both the party and the parliamentary fraction. The other characteristic face, Ákos Hadházy, who became known for his revelations in corruption cases, stepped out months ago. The small party is threatened with termination due to losing voters who may be totally confused by the irrational identity shifts destroying its self-image. Without a distinctive, well-known leader and a clear programme, it is hard to imagine how they will manage to campaign for the EP elections next spring. At present, it seems there is a good chance of them dropping out of the European Parliament.
The division of parties hasn’t changed since the general elections; Fidesz still attracts about half of the voters who claim to have clear preferences and are ready to vote. If the Opposition is unable to go through a radical reshaping and can’t find new, characteristic figures to convey effective messages to the public, it stands to reason that Fidesz will celebrate its fourth two-thirds victory in 2022.
By Dénes Sályi
On the featured photo resigned party leaders Gábor Vona and Bernadett Szél
photo by blikk.hu