Today two separate polls appeared on the party preferences of the Hungarian population: Tárki and Medián. Medián established its leading position among Hungarian pollsters when alone among all the pollsters it predicted in 2002 that, however narrowly, Fidesz would lose the elections. All the others came out with figures that gave a large lead to Viktor Orbán’s party. So, I will start with Medián.
HVG has a contract with Medián and therefore the firm’s results appear there first. In fact, if one goes to Medián’s website the detailed results are still not available. Here are some of the most important findings of the poll that was taken between November 11 and 15. It was a representative sample of 1,200 participants.
The mood of the country has shifted dramatically in the last month. During this period the percentage of people who consider that the country is heading in the wrong direction has grown from 69% to 78%. People’s euphoria after the elections has dissipated to almost the same level of dissatisfaction as before the elections in April 2010.
Only forty percent of the adult population would go out to vote if elections were held next Sunday. Forty-two percent of the voters simply cannot choose a party. That is a very high number. The last time Medián measured such indecision among the voters was in the fall 2001, just before the population rejected the governing Fidesz party at the elections. Even more interesting is that among those who claim that they have voted at every election and would vote now 19% cannot name a party they would be willing to support.
Among the voting age population by now only 26% would still vote for Fidesz. That means a 5% decrease in the last thirty days. This is about half of their support at the time of the elections. The number of those people satisfied with the performance of the Orbán government has been shrinking, but in the last month this slide in popularity dropped markedly, from 28% to 19%. This performance, if measured on a scale of one hundred, is translated into 30 points which is worse than the last assessment of the Bajnai government whose popularity stood at 36 points at the last poll before the elections. Moreover, there is an important difference. While the popularity of the Bajnai government showed an upward trend, the Orbán government’s popularity is steadily sinking.
Although Fidesz’s standing is anything but sterling, the other parties’ popularity is only about half that of Viktor Orbán’s party: MSZP 12%, Jobbik 12%, LMP 5%, and the new DK (Demokratikus Koalíció) 2%. Among those who say that they would definitely vote the situation is somewhat similar: Fidesz 45%, MSZP 21%, Jobbik 22%, LMP 6% and DK 4%.
Here is a graph that will help to put the changes into perspective. The graph depicts the party preferences of those who claim they would vote next Sunday:
So, as you can see, Jobbik has caught up with MSZP. Moreover, MSZP has lost some of its support since mid-October. Even if we combine the supporters of MSZP and DK the number doesn’t reach the level measured by Medián a month ago. So, for the time being at least, DK’s appearance hasn’t helped matters in socialist circles.
Here is a telling graph of the population’s assessment of the Orbán government’s performance:
The other polling firm that published its findings was Tárki. Their survey was conducted between November 10 and 15. According to Tárki’s pollsters Jobbik actually surpassed MSZP in popularity. According to them Fidesz’s support of 23% in the adult population hasn’t changed since October. (Compare that to Medián’s -5%.) MSZP, according to Tárki, lost 1% during the same time (11% to 10%). The number of undecided voters shrank from 50% to 48%. When it comes to voters who would definitely vote next Sunday Fidesz’s support shrank from 46% to 44% and MSZP from 22% to 20%. Tárki measured exactly the same degree of support for DK as did Medián. Tárki reported a fairly large drop among LMP supporters: 10% to 7% in the actively participating population.
All in all, the most important item is that Jobbik’s popularity is growing and MSZP, since the departure of the DK faction, has suffered further losses for which even the pretty decent 4% DK picked up in three weeks didn’t manage to compensate. Thus although the MSZP leadership might feel liberated that Gyurcsány and his friends are gone and they able to speak with one voice, the results are disappointing.
Meanwhile, Népszabadság reported today that 1,500 former MSZP members have joined DK already. One could say that this is not a large number considering that the MSZP leadership claims 32,000 card carrying members. The problem is, however, that this number might not be quite accurate. It seems that the party’s record keeping leaves something to be desired. According to Ferenc Gyurcsány–but naturally he cannot be entirely objective in this matter–the actual membership is about 15,000 and 9,000 of these voted for the changes he recommended during his negotiations with the party leadership. If that is the case, more “deserters” can be expected. But these 1,500 are only former MSZP members. By now the total membership is 4,000. According to László Varju, the party director, in all 176 individual electoral districts the party would be able to run even today. He claims that the party is especially strong in Szabolcs-Szatmár, Baranya, Veszprém, and Budapest.
For the time being, however, one must watch the extreme right which is at the moment neck to neck with MSZP. I’m also interested in the bi-election in the Budapest district where Gergely Karácsony (LMP) with 15% of the votes wouldn’t step aside in favor of Katalin Lévai (25%) claiming that even with such cooperation the Fidesz candidate cannot be defeated. I wouldn’t be surprised if Karácsony got fewer votes in the second round than in the first. People are getting tired of the opposition parties’ inability to pull together against the less and less popular Fidesz.