All those "political scientists" who have mighty little to do with "science" are busily trying to predict what will happen on April 11 and after. The latest is that they are predicting on the basis of current polls that don't include about 40% of those who are still undecided that there is a possibility that Jobbik will do better than MSZP. And therefore they suggest that the two established parties should pay attention to the strides Jobbik is making instead of worrying about each other.
I'm not saying that Jobbik is not a threat. I only consider such speculations premature. Some of these assumptions are based on hearsay. For example, in the last few weeks the Hungarian media were full of a story about "five hundred well trained Fidesz activisits who left the party and joined the forces of Jobbik." This most likely baseless story was created by combining two bits of news. In the first Előd Novák (Jobbik) claimed that at least five hundred former Fidesz party members had joined Jobbik; in the second László Kövér (Fidesz) admitted that some activists and their assistants had left for Jobbik. Thus some journalists arrived at the conclusion that all five hundred people were well trained activists. Even István Nyakó, MSZP spokesman, fell for this gossip and related it as fact at a press conference. However, by the time the written transcript of his speech appeared on MSZP's website this particular sentence was missing from the text.
What do we know to be fact? I managed to find in www.delmagyar.hu, a provincial paper serving Szeged and environs, that Jobbik collected enough endorsements (kopogtató cédulák) in the County of Csongrád that Jobbik candidates can be on the ballot in all seven electoral districts. When one hears about the difficulties that MDF and LMP are encountering in trying to collect these endorsements, one realizes that even in the southern parts of the country Jobbik must have substantial support. By the way, Jobbik is following Fidesz's example; its activists continue collecting over and above the necessary number. (Fidesz apparently is over 1.5 million. This can serve two purposes. First, to show strength, and second, to create a usable database.) In the city of Szeged Jobbik seems to have 150 activists while Fidesz has 500. MSZP keeps the number of activists secret. Perhaps because they are embarrassingly few. MSZP is not noted for its organizational talents. On the other hand, Ildikó Lendvai reported yesterday that in Budapest the collection of endorsements is proceeding well, adding that it seems that their supporters' worry over Fidesz's plans must have grown lately. Especially since Viktor Orbán's speech at Kötcse became public.
Here I would like to share with you Hírszerző's speculations about the prospects of the three parties: Fidesz, MSZP, and Jobbik. I might mention that Hírszerző is closely connected to Political Capital, the think-tank that was giving political advice to Magyar Demokrata Fórum (MDF). Hírszerző claims to know that Fidesz ordered a poll for its own use according to which Jobbik has gained enormous strength in northern Hungary where in many places the far-right party will end up second and the socialists only third. According to their informants from the two parties, both in Fidesz and in MSZP politicians began to worry about the growth of Jobbik. Until now the common wisdom was that Jobbik did well at the European Parliamentary elections only because electoral participation was low. Nowadays the analysts think that even with higher participation Jobbik might receive 15 percent if not more of the votes. The same analysts think that even in some counties in the lowland regions (Alföld) and in a couple of Transdanubian counties Jobbik might get very impressive results.
Hírszerző''s conclusion is that with the growth of Jobbik, Fidesz may not get the much desired two-thirds majority. Yet in spite of all this Fidesz is still preoccupied with Ferenc Gyurcsány, while MSZP is demonizing Viktor Orbán. As the article, the joint effort of three journalists, puts it: "There is no plan, only worry."
As opposed to the journalists of Hírszerző (Gábor Gavra, András Kósa, and Szilvia Nagy) I don't think that MSZP should turn its focus away from Fidesz and toward Jobbik; Jobbik is a much stronger threat to Fidesz. If the passive MSZP voters wake up and go out and vote MSZP might become strong enough that Fidesz not only will have no two-thirds majority but might have to look for a coalition partner. It would be impossible to form a government with Jobbik for political reasons, and in that case even an MSZP-Fidesz coalition, however unholy an alliance, might not be out of the question. In my opinion that might be the best outcome. Perhaps Gordon Bajnai's dream of a grand coalition is not such an impossibility.
But this is just speculation. We know that 250,000 Fidesz voters joined the ranks of the undecided in the last three months. Even Nézőpont (Perspective), a polling company and think-tank indirectly financed by Fidesz, came up with an 8% drop in Fidesz voters as of the middle of February. And that was before Kötcse and before the MSZP Congress where Attila Mesterházy did better than I expected. That might add a sense of urgency within the socialist camp and might change the predictions in the next two months for a less lopsided Fidesz victory.