Let me start at the end, with the results. There were plenty of surprises. The biggest is that Jobbik got 424,000 votes, 14.77% of the total. So Jobbik will send not one, not two, but three delegates to the EU parliament. No one, but no one expected that. Pollsters talked about one, perhaps two seats. The second major surprise is that MDF after all will be able to send Lajos Bokros to Brussels. The party received 5.3% of the votes. This is a great victory for Ibolya Dávid who would surely have been removed from the chairmanship of the party if her strategy of putting Lajos Bokros on the ticket didn't pan out. Although it was a risky decision, it was obviously not a bad one. Even a couple of days ago reporters were joking about the choice of Bokros. Here is a man who keeps telling the electorate that further cuts should be made in the social welfare system and that the property tax should be universally applied. What kind of campaign is that? When pollsters asked about the popularity of the top candidates on the lists, Bokros was the least popular. Well, obviously 5.3% of the voters thought he was credible.
When rumors hit the TV stations about two or three minutes before the official announcement that Jobbik won three seats and MDF one, I said to myself: if this is true, Viktor Orbán is not a happy man because that means that Fidesz will have two or three fewer seats than he was expecting. Earlier opinion polls had talked about 16 or 17 seats, and at the end Fidesz had to be satisfied with 14. Of course, he put on a happy face because, as he proudly announced after the election results were made public, Fidesz's 56.7% victory is a record in the history of European parliamentary elections. But how much sweeter victory would have been if Századvég's prediction had become reality. Századvég, a think tank and public opinion firm close to Fidesz, was almost certain that Fidesz would have seventeen seats and Jobbik only one. Wishful thinking, in retrospect.
Jobbik's success was stunning. Everybody anticipated enough far-right votes for Jobbik to send Krisztina Morvai to Brussels. There was some tentative speculation that Jobbik might be strong enough to have two delegates in the European Parliament. But three? Readers of this blog may have noticed that Fidesz realized the ever increasing growth of Jobbik in the last few weeks and began campaigning against it. Viktor Orbán repeatedly mentioned the necessity of right-wing unity. He told people who used to be in Fidesz camp that voting for another right-wing party is a lost vote. He emphasized the necessity of achieving a two-thirds majority in order to change the constitution. People didn't listen to him. Fidesz lost about half a million votes to Jobbik.
As for the MSZP, it did miserably. It received four seats and 17.37% of the votes. Only about 3.5% more than Jobbik. That sounds as if MSZP were finished. As if the Hungarian socialists ended up where the Polish socialists did. Of course, this is still a possibility, but there are a couple of (admittedly weak) mitigating factors. First and foremost, the percentage of MSZP core voters hasn't changed since Gordon Bajnai's government enacted legislation that seriously curtailed entitlements. It was low then, low now, but not lower. Second, the far left wing of the party didn't switch to the far right, a sadly common occurrence in politics. Most of the Jobbik vote came from former Fidesz supporters. I know, little consolation, but I find solace in small things.
SZDSZ is gone. It received only 2.2% of the votes. Surely, there will be consequences of this defeat within the party. Gábor Fodor already announced that he would offer his resignation as party chairman. Note that he offered his resignation; he didn't resign. Some commentators think that as a result of the EU elections SZDSZ might change its mind and refuse to support Gordon Bajnai's government, forcing early elections. Well, if they are stupid enough, they might, and I must say there are an awful lot of stupid people in the SZDSZ leadership. But in the parliamentary caucus at least half of the people, about ten of them, would not go along with it, so the government would still have the necessary support. By the way, SZDSZ might have gotten in if there hadn't been a new party called "Politics Might Be Different" (LMP). Most likely LMP got the lion's share of its votes from disappointed SZDSZ voters, and they must have been numerous because LMP got more votes than SZDSZ, 2.6% or 75,00 votes as opposed to 2.2% or 62,000 votes.
In the next few days there will be a frenzy of political analysis, but in my closest circle of friends most are horrified at the strong showing of Jobbik. They already envisage a scenario that would lead to Fidesz's further courting Jobbik voters by moving farther and farther to the right. Or they are certain that Fidesz would get together with Jobbik and form a coalition. They are sure that MSZP will shrink to the point of becoming a small or nonexistent party. Some commentators blindly extrapolate the results of this election to the national elections. One thing about politics–it doesn't fall into the two areas of certainty in this life, death and taxes. Which makes it fluid, open to potential upsets (who would have thought that Obama with if I recall correctly a 28% support rate among Democrats would have overtaken Hillary Clinton?), and always worthy of dialogue and debate. And so tomorrow is another day.