The so-called democratic opposition is not doing well. While Fidesz lost more than half of its voters (from 38% in May 2010 to 18% in February 2012) the size of MSZP’s and LMP’s followers remained practically unchanged. MSZP inched up 1% and LMP moved from 3% to 4%. The new DK managed to recruit 2% of the eligible voters. Jobbik’s share is also steady at 8%.
Where are the disillusioned Fidesz voters? In May 2010 22% of those asked refused to divulge their party preferences as opposed to the situation today when 33% refuse to answer. These figures say a lot about the fear that is spreading in Hungary because of the Orbán government’s ruthless way of doing things. Those who claim that they wouldn’t bother to vote also climbed from 14% to 21%. If one adds up the differences between these two sets of figures one is close to finding the missing Fidesz voters.
This loss of popularity of the Fidesz-KDNP rule might be heartwarming to those who oppose the Orbán government, but the inability of the opposition to gain any traction must be terribly disappointing to those politicians who under very difficult circumstances are trying to unseat Viktor Orbán and his friends in 2014. Demonstrations against the government are organized by civic groups with a definite anti-party (any party) message. There were times when politicians were in fact forbidden to attend their street demonstrations. The numbers who attend these gatherings are decreasing. I don’t even blame them. What can they achieve? They can listen to some speeches and sing a song or two about freedom and democracy that will return some day, but otherwise these rallies achieve absolutely nothing.
Although the Orbán government is no longer popular, it still managed to put together a huge demonstration in support of the government just as Vladimir Putin could organize massive rallies on his own behalf. Indeed, 100,000 men and women marching together is an impressive sight even though these huge gatherings don’t translate into votes. Viktor Orbán considered the “Peace Walk” such a resounding success that his troops immediately began organizing another one for March 15, one of the two Hungarian national holidays.
In his infamous interview with journalists of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung a few days ago he bragged about support for his government and the weakness of the opposition. This is how he described his political opponents’ situation: “My full respect for those people who gather on the streets [against his government]. Sometimes they can be in the tens of thousands. But compared to the meetings of the right they are only club events. March 15th, a national holiday, will soon be upon us. The fact that we can mobilize our supporters successfully is beyond question.” And he added that such a demonstration is “a liberating experience for the supporters of the Hungarian right.”
For the March 15 extravaganza Orbán is expecting such a large crowd that his speech will be delivered not in front of the National Museum where relatively few people can gather but in front of the parliament building. About 2,000 people are coming from Poland, followers of Jarosław Kaczyński, and most likely many Hungarians will arrive from the neighboring countries. The odds are that it will be just as impressive as the first pro-government demonstration was, and the leaders of the democratic opposition can again be as depressed as they were after the “Peace Walk.”
As the matter of fact, people in the anti-Orbán camp are already depressed. Ferenc Gyurcsány wrote a bitter piece on Facebook after only about 10,000 people showed up at yesterday’s rally organized by the Magyar Szolidaritás Mozgalom (The Hungarian Solidarity Movement). It was supported by the parties, but there were no party politicians among the speakers. They could only attend.
Gyurcsány blames “the killers of the past” for the present political apathy. This camp is large: Jobbik, Fidesz, LMP, the socialists, and naturally the civic groups. These “killers of the past” are responsible for the country’s present situation because “they are contemptuous of their own world, the only one that has a future.” These super-critics of the past eight or twenty years are actually the allies of the radicals. Those who believe in politics without political parties weaken the already weak opposition and assist Fidesz.
Indeed, the situation looks pretty hopeless. One of the important Solidarity leaders was ousted from the organization because he wanted to organize a party. The “Milla” group, originally organized on the Internet, refused to join Solidarity. LMP wants nothing to do with either MSZP or DK. Viktor Orbán can laugh and thank God for his good fortune in having an opposition like this. Indeed, it is pitiful.
By the way, it is worth spending an hour and half watching the debate between Viktor Orbán and Ferenc Gyurcsány four days before the 2006 elections. It is even more telling in retrospect than it seemed at the time. After watching that debate one can put “the last eight years” in a better perspective.
Meanwhile, let’s stop the useless demonstrations with fewer and fewer participants. They only hurt the cause.