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Tapolca By-Election: Three Towns, Three Political Leanings, One Mandate

By Hungary Today // 2015.04.08.

Three towns of very different political affiliations are to decide on which party will win the by-election to be held this Sunday in a constituency in western Hungary, journalist Zsuzsanna Körmendy writes in the opinion column of today’s Magyar Nemzet newspaper, pointing out that of the constituency’s three larger towns, support for Jobbik is very strong in Tapolca, Sümeg leans towards Fidesz and the Socialists lead polls in Ajka.

Following Fidesz’s electoral defeat on 22 February in Veszprém county’s first constituency, it was to be expected that governing parties will do as much as they can to secure a better-organised campaign this time. By-elections are to be held in the constituency centred upon the town of Tapolca on Sunday and following the shadowy campaign for governing parties’ candidate is Veszprém, it seems natural that Fidesz-KDNP will organise mobilisation according to the weight of the election.

Let us recall that the by-election called in Budapest’s District IV for 23 November was won by the Socialist candidate. During the analysis of results, it was already claimed that Fidesz failed to properly mobilise its supporters. It is a matter of fact that in that case, the governing side lost in a constituency where the Socialists still have strong positions, but in Veszprém, the Right was well-known to be in a leading positions and the Fidesz-KDNP candidate nevertheless failed to take the mandate.

Governing parties therefore definitely need to draw the consequences, and this appears to have happened because the Veszprém defeat was mentioned even in Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s state-of-the-nation speech. “We lost smoothly”, the Prime Minister said, and then called on his audience and those watching the event on television not to remain idle or “rest on our laurels. Let’s get up from our armchairs before it’s too late and get our jobs done”. These words alone allowed the conclusion that Mr. Orbán will strengthen and mobilise moderate right-wing voters with his personal presence in Tapolca – this will take place on Thursday.

There is something peculiar in former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s choice to choose Ajka to campaign for the election of the left-wing candidate. It would be difficult to forget the serious effect the red sludge catastrophe had on the environment because it claimed human lives and the cabinet spent HUF 38 billion on reconstruction efforts. At the time, Mr. Gyurcsány failed to turn up at the meeting of the parliamentary committee on the catastrophe, to which he was summoned as the owner of Motim Zrt. to explain his company’s corporate strategy and whether it is able to avoid a similar catastrophe at is plant in Mosonmagyaróvár, western Hungary.

Voters will doubtless have a hard time making their decision. Left-wing candidate Ferenc Pad intends to represent employees and the “average person” and focuses on job creation. Lajos Rig, the Jobbik candidate, is currently deputy mayor of Tapolca and has been working in health care for twenty-two years. He strives to create opportunities for the young, those wishing to study and entrepreneurs. Fidesz-KDNP’s Zoltán Fenyvesi, a teacher and school director, held a 1.5-hour interactive telephone forum last week to ask citizens living in Tapolca, Sümeg, Ajka and their surroundings about their demands and ideas. Most of the question put to him were related to salary increases planned by the government, development, job creation and health care.

Analysts claim that Jobbik has a good chance to win the Tapolca mandate. The question is the magnitude of force each party wil manage to mobilise over the upcoming days, and especially the credibility of doing so. All actions primarily aimed at discrediting the rival have two possible outcome because voters can be influenced only to an extent which does not contradict their personal experiences. Mobilisation is important, but not everything: no candidate is short of well-sounding plans for the future and we will see on Sunday how the party backgrounds or, to put it a different way, political downwinds will work.

via mno.huphoto: 168ora.hu


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