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The Expected & Unexpected: Fidesz’s Clean-Sweep and the “New” Opposition

Ábrahám Vass 2019.05.27.

This Sundayʼs European Parliamentary elections resulted in a much expected victory (though not by a landslide) for Prime Minister Viktor Orbánʼs Fidesz-KDNP alliance. Although a record number of Hungarians turned out to vote in yesterday’s parliamentary elections, it was still much lower than in the general elections. Furthermore, a restructuring of the opposition seemed to be underway, resulting in surprising success for some and a devastating defeat for others. 

Unexpected results for the opposition

In general, pollsters were more or less spot on. Most predicted Fidesz winning 12-13 mandates, with only certain pro-Fidesz institutes predicting 14.

When it came to the opposition, however, the extent of LMP, Jobbik and MSZP’s failure and the degree of DK and Momentum’s success wasn’t foreseen.

Still no contender for Fidesz-KDNP

Although Fidesz-KDNP emerged the winner, collecting more votes than all the other parties combined, the result is interpreted by many analysts as stagnation. (The past decade’s victories set the bar very high for Fidesz, so even a win unimaginable in other countries is something that has happened in Hungary many times.)

Image by MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák

In comparison to last year’s 2,8 million voters, the governing alliance received 52.3% of the votes. Although domestically this would mean a two-thirds majority once again due to the controversial electoral law changed by Fidesz, according to the EP elections’ proportional system, this only means 13 mandates out of 21. Therefore, Fidesz didn’t quite achieve a two-thirds victory, as Orbán’s arch-enemy DK Ferenc Gyurcsány was keen to point out. Opposition analysts also emphasize that Fidesz lost 1 million voters since last year’s election. However, as the EP elections’ turn-out tends to be lower, it didn’t prevent Fidesz’s victory.

Fact

As economic investigative site G7 found, Fidesz-KDNP dominated in Hungary's poorest areas, once again. In the ten poorest Hungarian municipalities, while turnout neared the average, 93,5% supported the governing alliance.

DK and Momentum are the opposition’s new leaders

Former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party Democratic Coalition (DK) emerged second, almost doubling its turnout (555 thousand) in comparison to 2018 (308 thousand). Many attributed its outstanding success to Gyurcsány’s withdrawal from the campaign and choice to place wife Klára Dobrev in the foreground. The party’s simple campaign message (United States of Europe) and its harsh criticism of Fidesz proved very popular. DK has emerged as the second strongest party, making it the strongest of the opposition.

DK’s Csaba Molnár, Klára Dobrev, Ferenc Gyurcsány and Sándor Rónai. Image by MTI/Noémi Bruzák

While most expected Momentum to jump just above the threshold, its outstanding results have surprised everyone, including party members. In 2018, only 175 thousand people voted for the party. However, that number jumped to 338 thousand (9,89%) this year, resulting in two mandates. As a result, the liberal-centrist party established following its successful NOlimpia signature-drive in 2017 has become the third strongest political formation in Hungary.

Although far-right Mi Hazánk didn’t make it to the EP, its results (3,31%) and the 113 thousand voters it took to the ballots are rather promising for Toroczkai and his young party. In Törökszentmiklós, probably due to the party’s controversial demonstration last week, it finished second with 14,96%.

Disappointed LMP leadership. Image by MTI/ Zsolt Szigetváry.

“For us, this is ok,” the Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP) leader said of the party’s results (2,62%). It indeed took a step percent-wise, probably due to its low-budget and successful community projects. He also announced the party’s decision to suspend its membership in the EP: “We have had enough of the European Parliament telling the Hungarian people who can come to the EP.”

LMP “have been destroyed” 

Yesterday’s biggest loser was perhaps far, green-centrist LMP (Politics can be different). Only 2,18% cast their ballots for the party, resulting in a loss of almost 330 thousand voters. In comparison, only far-left Munkáspárt performed worse. It seems that in addition to last year’s controversies and inner fights, climate change wasn’t enough to mobilize voters. The night of the election, the entire presidency announced its resignation. In the following months, the green party’s survival will be at stake.

Jobbik’s disappointed György Szilágyi. Image by MTI/Tamás Kovács

The performance of left-liberal MSZP-Párbeszéd (6,66%) and rightist Jobbik (6,41%) was also disappointing. While the Socialists have been in a downward period since 2009, this is Jobbik’s first major blow. It lost the most votes (approx. 800 thousand) in comparison to the 2018 general election. Both parties gained only one seat, which means they will inevitably lose (further) influence domestically.

featured image: Momentum’s lead candidates Katalin Cseh and Anna Donáth; via Tibor Illyés/MTI/MTVA