I’m happy to announce (for those who think I report only one side) that there was a incident in which an MSZP activist got into trouble during the campaign. According to news reports a Fidesz activist was putting up posters where allegedly he wasn’t supposed to and a fight broke out between the Fidesz activist and another man who happened to be the younger brother of the town’s MSZP deputy mayor. In order to balance things out, Fidesz now seems to be making further phoney automated telephone calls. This time in the name of Médián. Médián has already announced that they are not collecting data at the moment.
As of midnight comes the campaign silence. For anyone who is interested in politics the silence is deafening. The newspapers are dull as dishwater and the television stations specialize in soap operas. As late as 2006 polls couldn’t be published for a whole week before elections. By now at least this practice has changed. The pollsters now only have to observe the campaign silence. As far as the polls are concerned the predictions are all over the place. Szonda Ipsos predicted that 48% of all eligible voters will vote but this number is based on polls taken in January. Médián is talking about 46%, Gallup 54%, Marketing Central 33% and Publicus, whoever they are, 68%. (At every election we have, I suspect, a bogus polling company. This time it seems to be called Publicus. I have an idea whose brainchild this was.) As for Gallup, Gallup of Hungary is usually so far off that it is not worth taking them seriously. It’s a shame that Hungarian Gallup is tarnishing the name of this oldest American polling company.
SZDSZ urged people to vote and say "no." MSZP was ambivalent: they couldn’t decide what would be the more advantageous from the party’s point of view–for its supporters to stay at home or go and vote "no." In the last few days it has become clearer that the latter tactic is the better one from the government’s point of view and therefore the MSZP’s strategy has changed. By now the MSZP is sending precorded telephone messages: Gyurcsány himself urges people to go and vote "no." My feeling is that the number of "no’s" will increase due to the last minute recognition on the part of MSZP supporters that strategically it is best to reduce the percentage of "yes" votes in a perhaps already small pool. I personally know several people who originally wanted to stay away but in the last two days have changed their minds.
I’m no fan of this campaign silence not just because it makes for dull reading but because after elections hundreds of complaints are launched that X or Y broke the campaign silence and therefore the election must be repeated. Investigations follow, precious time and money are spent, usually for no good reason whatsoever. I’m also baffled by the notion that parties cannot accumulate databases of their followers. I don’t know whether the MSZP has illegally stashed away names and addresses of their followers, but I know for sure that the Fidesz did. I don’t blame them. A modern and effective campaign cannot be conducted without such a database. This morning I heard a man (on György Bolgár’s program, Klub Rádió) who complained bitterly that he had an elderly relative who died in 2002 at the ripe age of 96 and a couple of days ago she received Fidesz campaign literature addressed to her. Six years earlier she had supported a Fidesz candidate when he was collecting signatures certifying his eligibility to run for office. These supporting tickets are called "kopogtató cédulák" (literally "knocking tickets") because the candidate has to knock on doors to collect them. According to the existing law these tickets or more precisely the information they contain must be destroyed. Surely, said the relative, the Fidesz must still have this information because otherwise how could they have addressed the campaign literature to somebody who died six years ago. The whole thing seems ridiculous to me. Why not just say: yes, keep lists of your followers and try to approach them during the campaign. That seems normal to me and the Hungarian practice unworkable.
Another observation about campaign silence. The extreme right has already announced that they are planning to demonstrate Saturday morning in front of the Parliament. So the cordon is going back, the police must stand there and wait. Nice little silence it will be if these demonstrations actually take place. Let’s forget about the whole thing!