It’s time again for the monthly opinion polls on the popularity of the parties. Ipsos is usually the first one out of the gate, and it announced its findings yesterday. There are some interesting changes, not so much in the standings of the parties but in the continuing growth of undecided voters–from 51 to 54 percent. This is really staggering. More than half of the votingpopulation doesn’t have a party preference. Because of this situation, any prediction for the future on the basis of today’s results is fairly meaningless.
Pollsters usually distinguish between the results of all those sampled and the results of those who say that they would participate in an election if it were held on the Sunday after the poll was taken. According to experts, years before the next elections only the results for the whole adult population are reliable. Or at least they are more reliable than those for the eager voters who claim they would definitely rush to the election booths next Sunday. And the former figures don’t bode well for Fidesz. Fidesz still leads, but only marginally. The difference between Fidesz and MSZP is only 4 percentage points.
It is worth taking a look at the Ipsos results in the last two years. MSZP’s popularity has barely moved. In May 2010 it stood at 11% and today it is 12%. But what happened to Fidesz? In May 2010 Fidesz had a commanding lead: 42% of all voters would have voted for Fidesz. This figure today is 16%. Jobbik would receive 9% today, and the other two democratic parties, LMP and DK, would receive 4% and 2% respectively.
Among those in the sample who would definitely vote, in May 2010 62% would have chosen Fidesz and only 20% MSZP. In this category too Fidesz losses are substantial. Today only 37% of the Fidesz loyalists would vote for Viktor Orbán’s party. At the same time MSZP supporters got somewhat energized. Their percentage increased from 20% to 28%. Jobbik would get 19% of the votes, LMP 8% and DK 4%.
What does this 16% for Fidesz among the adult population mean in actual numbers? According to Ipsos it indicates approximately 1.3 million supporters, a figure that is considered to be very low for Fidesz. Ipsos doesn’t exclude the possibility of further losses but mentions that the core supporters of Fidesz are a very committed and cohesive bunch. 95% of these 1.3 million people voted for Fidesz in 2010. Among these people Viktor Orbán is still extremely popular: he received 85 points out of a possible 100 in this group.
Finally, there is another telling point of the Ipsos study: 62% of all eligible Fidesz voters under no circumstances would vote for MSZP while only 10% would reject Jobbik altogether. Although about 75% of the population think that Hungary is heading in the wrong direction, 62% of the hardcore Fidesz voters are satisfied with the performance and achievements of the Orbán government.
Here are a few points not mentioned by Ipsos. If we add MSZP’s 12%, LMP’s 4% and DK’s 2% their combined strength is a bit higher than that of Fidesz. Among the active participants the situation is about the same. However, and that is a big however, there are the Jobbik supporters. Most analysts think that the currently large undecided body of voters is unlikely to vote in great numbers for Jobbik and thus eventually, especially if the democratic parties can join forces, an election victory in 2014 is possible.
Don’t conflate possible with likely. So far there is no sign of cooperation among the three democratic parties: MSZP, LMP, and DK. A good example is Sunday’s by-election in Dunaújváros. One must keep in mind that Dunaújváros, once called Sztálinváros and built between 1951 and 1961 as an industrial city, used to be an MSZP stronghold. Until 2010 the mayor was always a socialist. In 2010 there was a Fidesz sweep and currently there are only 2 MSZP city council members.
So, what happened? In February one of the Fidesz members of the city council died. Hence the election for his seat. Total apathy reigned in Dunaújváros on Sunday. Out of the 5,034 voters only 998 (19.82%) actually voted. The Fidesz candidate received 408 votes, the MSZP man 275, LMP’s representative 174 and Jobbik 75. In addition, there was an independent candidate who got 66 votes. If LMP and MSZP had agreed on one candidate they might have won the election with 449 votes.
But here is another example: the by-election in Miskolc in April. Fidesz’s candidate won with 1055 votes while his MSZP opponent received 1029 votes. Under the circumstances a great showing for MSZP. But there was LMP’s man who received 62 votes. Again, if LMP hadn’t split the democratic left’s vote Fidesz wouldn’t have won.
I wonder when they will see the light.