Fidesz and MSZP: neck and neck

Since the middle of the month several polls measuring party preferences have appeared. Ipsos, the first to report among the pollsters, measured a downward trend for Fidesz and an upward one for MSZP. At that point, among the adult population eligible to vote Fidesz led with 16%, MSZP followed with 13% while the undecided moved up from 51% to 54%.

Ten days later Századvég, a team close to Fidesz, found that the government party had a substantial lead. According to them 24% of the adult population would vote Fidesz and only 15% for MSZP.

Today it was time for Tárki to come out with its latest results. Tárki’s data were collected between May 17 and 22, after Ipsos had already published its results. If Tárki’s data accurately reflect the situation, Fidesz has lost 5% of its support in one month. In April Tárki measured 21% Fidesz support in the population as a whole; a month later in May it was down to 16%. Over the same period the socialists gained 3%. In April Tárki reported 13% for MSZP; that number is now 16%. Thus, an entirely novel situation has occurred in these past two months: for the first time the two parties have exactly the same level of support. But what is truly amazing is that this also holds true for those who definitely plan to vote. Thirty-two percent of the voters would vote for Fidesz and 31% for MSZP. This is significant because normally Fidesz supporters are more determined voters than the socialists. I should also mention that, according to Ipsos, Viktor Orbán received only 28 points on a scale of 100 when it came to popularity this month. This is the lowest ever measured by Ipsos. Even Attila Mesterházy of MSZP received more points (30) than the prime minister.

Tárki also published on its website a graphic summary of changes in popularity among Hungarian parties.

I was especially struck by the changes of the category (in blue) of those who either don’t have a party preference or who simply refuse to divulge it. You may notice that every time the percentage of Fidesz voters (orange) went up, the number of the undecided went down. See especially November 2010,  August 2011, and March 2012.  Now that the popularity of Fidesz is declining the number of undecided voters is going up again. Historically, among the undecided the majority usually end up with the socialist party.

As for the inordinate number of undecided voters, my feeling is that, although the numbers are high, they are perhaps not so high as the pollsters report. Concern over Fidesz’s intentions is most likely very real among people who will not vote for Fidesz. Fear is gripping those who are not behind the two-thirds majority. You have no idea how many letters I receive expressing real fear about the consequences of being openly critical of the government.

People hear about all sorts of data gathering by Fidesz and about lists that are being prepared of people who are known MSZP voters. People are convinced that the questionnaires periodically prepared and distributed to all voters on an assortment of bogus questions parading as “national consultations” are simply tools for information gathering. People are in a real quandary over what to do; the fourth such questionnaire was mailed just yesterday. After all, these questionnaires have bar codes that include all the necessary information about the recipients. If they don’t send the questionnaire back, the very fact of their refusal tells something about them to the government and the government party.

And finally here is another Tárki graph that shows party preferences in the last two months in the electorate as a whole:

While support for Jobbik, LMP, and DK has fluctuated in the last two months, Fidesz’s support is steadily declining while MSZP’s is steadily growing. That can safely be called a trend.

I might also mention here that Fidesz’s attack on Ferenc Gyurcsány in connection with his senior thesis might be responsible for DK’s decline. The standing  of Jobbik is fairly stagnant. Two years ago Ipsos registered 9% support and now the number is 10%. Tárki put their support at 11%. I find this interesting because one often hears about a fear of Jobbik’s incredible strength and that perhaps in two years time they can even win the elections. I have no such fear. What I worry about is a deal between Fidesz and Jobbik if Fidesz alone cannot form a government in 2014. I’m sure that Viktor Orbán is not finicky. He would make a deal with the devil if that would assure him the position of prime minister between 2014 and 2018.

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nyaripal
Guest
“You may notice that every time the percentage of Fidesz voters (orange) went up, the number of the undecided went down. See especially November 2010, August 2011, and March 2012. Now that the popularity of Fidesz is declining the number of undecided voters is going up again. Historically, among the undecided the majority usually end up with the socialist party.” I’m not sure of the point you are trying to make here, Éva, but if you are suggesting that the majority of undecided will vote MSzP, this is not supported by the what the figures show. As you yourself point out, when Fidesz support goes up, undecided goes down. This surely suggests a direct relationship between the undecided and Fidesz – when they come of the fence they vote Fidesz. Not MSzP. “While support for Jobbik, LMP, and DK has fluctuated in the last two months, Fidesz’s support is steadily declining while MSZP’s is steadily growing. That can safely be called a trend.” I’m sorry, but two months figures, especially in a situation as volatile as Hungarian politics, does NOT make a trend. What these figures mainly indicate is a sharp drop in Fidesz support, coupled with a proportionate rise… Read more »
nyaripal
Guest

I seem to be stuck with the name ‘nyaripal’ again!

Paul

Member

Eva:What I worry about is a deal between Fidesz and Jobbik if Fidesz alone cannot form a government in 2014. I’m sure that Viktor Orbán is not finicky. He would make a deal with the devil if that would assure him the position of prime minister between 2014 and 2018.

My fears exactly. THe events of the last two months (Horthy cult, nazi writers in the curriculum, removal of Attila Jozsef statue, taking away the money from party support, calling the MSZP members and not the Jobbik members past Arrow Cross members, etc.) shows some conformity to Jobbik and makes them desperate without money.

Thomas
Guest

I think a deal has already been struck between FIDESZ and Jobbik. It is in the sly, but almost tangible. In any case if by any chance FIDESZ loses, the conditions are such that it will be impossible to govern. Remember many important FIDESz appointees will keep their jobs way after the next election.

Kirsten
Guest

“the fourth such questionnaire was mailed just yesterday”

Nightmare. For an outsider it is easy to say: Do not answer, if many of you will not, they will not be able to punish you.

Guest

My wife is waiting for that questionnaire and I’ll have a look at it first. If it really contains a barcode that can be used to identify the person whom it was sent to, then she won’t answer it of course – just as she threw the last “letters from Orbán” into the open fire …

Dubious
Guest

It’s good news, and Fidesz are beatable, but it’s a long way until polling day

LwiiH
Guest

Maybe Fidesz looses but an incredible amount of damage has been done and it’s going to take an unprecedented level of cooperation to undo it. Plus after being burned by MSzP and now Fidesz, the center has no home and now is completely so apathetic it’s likely that voter turn out will be even lower than the ratings for the major parties are.

Odin's Lost eye
Guest

After 2010 voting in elections has no meaning. My reasons for this is that even if another party got over 2/3 of the seats and as Thomas reminds us the Fidesz controlled ‘Appointees’ will frustrate anything the new government wishes to do. The second problem is that I doubt that more than 25% of non Fides candidates will be able to stand for election.

Member

After reading (and feeling myself) the apathy regarding changes that can happen if Fidesz will be ousted from power in 2014 because how they wedged their faithfuls and their “policies” in the right places.
I would be very curious of our expert readers’ opinion of this blog on what would be the best way to restore democracy and undue all the damage from the “small things”, like providing equality to all Hungarians regardless of sexual orientation or family status, ethnicity and religion in the Constitution, to the “larger things” like removing Fidesz installed Tunde Hando from the head of judiciary from her forever and ever job, and so forth.

Kirsten
Guest
I am not an expert on that matter and would approach it perhaps with examples from other countries. Current Hungarian society is largely fragmented in political preferences, with a part apolitical, another part of the society with strong (and uncompromising) views either left or right, and a third part apalled (eg because of the uncompromising attitudes of some). OV is governing not because he is liked but because he is able to exploit the divisions in the society and the political arena. Something similar was said about Franco. His reign was relatively stable (after the specifically brutal phase) as long as he was able to somehow divide opposition and offer his “supporters” some benefits. The opposition in the 1970s then accepted to “forget everything” and the Francists have more or less found this acceptable too. The Spanish left-wing opposition had intellectual support from Spanish political emigrants. Part of the programme for transition was prepared by them. And it was tried to reduce the economic hardship during the first transition years, so that support for reforms was not threatened. The main point is cooperation on clearly specified priorities and not looking back or reinforcing division. That has to be achieved first.… Read more »
Louis Kovach
Guest

I am sorry, but many of comments (and the posting itself) strongly resembles the 1920-1924 emigree press. Every potential chink in the governments armor is exploited by a tremendous amount of wishful thinking. They hoped from rumors that at times Czechs, or Serbs or Rumanians would invade the country and put Karolyi or his ilk back in power. That Bethlen can’t get the loans and the Hungarian economy will collapse and Karolyi or Kun gets back into power. Now similarly, there is a lot of

wishful interpreation of both events and statistics.

An
Guest

@ Louis Kovach: Quite a stretch, I am pretty sure none of us is hoping that the Czechs, Serbs, or Romanians invade the country. In fact, I am strongly against anybody invading Hungary.

What I wish for is sane leadership (of any political denomination,left or right) , which the country is woefully lacking right now.

Member

In his analogy probably the evil EU/IMF agressors are the menace. Right, Luois?

Louis’ observation is interesting, but the most intelligent question that comes to my mind is “Resembles. So what?”

Thomas
Guest

I am not sure what resembles to what. And why the arbitrary date 1920-1924? In 1925 the Czechs, the Serbs and the Romanian gave up their dream to reinstate Karolyi? Which dream by the way (in my unscholarly opinion) never had existed? And Kun? How does he figure in this equation, undoubtedly Kun and Karolyi are of the same ilk.

Louis Kovach
Guest

No, I do not think that EU/IMF would invade, they are broke and the Germans would not fight even in Lybia. Nato is a joke. The post WWI “invasion” examples were given for the current expectations for outside “help” in overcoming the current gov.

The “so what” for the resembles is that it appears that the end result is the same now as it was then….nothing.

Member

Louis, do you have any suggestions, like a revolution or assassination? Something more practical. Or you’re just gloating. Or should we stop criticizing the government entirely because futile anyway?

Let me highlight one difference for ya between this blog and 1920-24 “emigree press” whatever that was. That would be the thousands of English speaking readers every month. How is that for a purpose?

Louis Kovach
Guest

@Muttd. Yes, where is a political party that is straightforward in its democratic (or republican) aims in Hungary? I am sorry but the above “survey” that the MSzP caught up to the Fidesz is nonsense.

Yes, it is in English now, then it was German and Hungarian, although there were French papers also.

Member

These are major polling companies. Do you have problems with their methodologies or you just don’t want to accept the result?

I agree that the way the undecided curve goes it’s the exact negative of the FIDESZ voters. This definitely suggests to me that the undecideds are FIDESZ refugees. Disillusioned 2/3 warriors. The question is how much they hate the MSZP? If the MSZP doesn’t come up with something to convince them that they have changed and they are not just waiting for the “anything but FIDESZ” effect these guys will give Orban another chance in 2014.

Eva! The Tarki link is missing a colon (:) in the url.

Louis Kovach
Guest

@Thomas. I am in my office, but I will give you sources for 1920-1924 period. Yes, there was a change in the manner the emigrees were acting in 1925. Again, I will give you sources. It is too much to discuss in whole here.

Thomas
Guest

Thanks, I appreciate that

Thomas
Guest

By the way I was not talking about the émigrés (they can dream, just like we do today about a democratic Hungary). I simply doubt that there ever was a desire of the neighboring countries to overthrow anybody in Hungary and reinstate Karolyi. The surveys are not nonsense at all, the question is if they mean anything. I think not, not yet anyway. If it holds, let’s say for 3 months, then we can talk about change and trend.

Louis Kovach
Guest
Sorry for the late response re the threat of invasion of Hungary by the surrounding states after the failure of the revolutions in Hungary. There were four events which stand out. The incitement of the KSCS government by the emigrees to keep occupying the Baranya “republic” as a base for joint invasion of Hungary. The second was the attempt for joint invasion with the Czechs through Rusinsko, when the Soviet army was still victorious against the Poles. The two remaining ones were both occurred subsequent to the Habsburg restoration attempts mainly by Czechs and Rumanians. For references see all of Jaszi’s correspondance and Elemer Malyusz “A Voros Emigracio’ 2006 Budapest (obviously biased but reasonably authentic) Originally published in English in 1931. An excellent description is given of the Czech side by Andrej Toth in Czechoslovak Policy and the First Restoration Attempt of Charles Habsburg in Hungary in the Spring of 1921. General info is available in Magda Adam’s book “The Little Entente and Europe” BP 1993. However, it is worth mentioning that R.W Seaton Watts was inciting invasion of Hungary already in 1919 in his article in “The Living Age” titled “The Fall of Bela Kun” (Sept 1919)
Member

By the way today is our Beloved Leader’s 49th birthday!!! Your prayers were ignored …

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[…] nehotaratilor de la 43 la 49%. Exista si alte sondaje, potrivit unor bloguri, potrivit carora prabusirea FIDESZ n-ar fi atat de mare. Presedintele parlamentului Ungariei, Laszlo Kover, nu este la primele declaratii care au generat […]

Louis Kovach
Guest
Re Dr. Balogh above. So I gather that you have not read the Malyusz book. Now here is a trained historian, and even according to an authority like you a “Very good medieval historian” but if there are folks who because they dislike one of his works, summarily dismiss him… Yes, I have read the Turbucz writing including the part where he wrote “In final evaluation the two sides acted identically, except with reversed signs, up to a certain point they were correct, because they had right to apply criticism against each other, but in their actions they exaggerated so much that it broke with reality. E Malyusz therefore very rightly points out this phenomenon, and cites uncountable sources which support his opinion of the émigré’s activity” BTW Malyusz was actually on the scene, he was working in the Vienna archives from 1920-1922. In summary, you couldn’t refute anything that Malyusz wrote. Turbucz actually endorsed the correctness of the sources. Now for Seaton Watson (yes I know not Watts, the copy was in front of me when I wrote the posting!) Again you are dismissing that he was inciting the Little Entente. I have never written that it was the… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

Louis, now that you made the case for not seeing history only black and white, I am curious to learn what you think why the Great Powers treated Hungary so badly. Certainly not “incitement” by one person working in the propaganda department…?

Louis Kovach
Guest

Kirsten, I am not ignoring you. It is a very extensive, and not one sentence issue, but I will attempt to put my thoughts together. It will take some time, particularly if sources are given also.

Member

If we ever wondered how the Fidesz operates, we just have to read Louis Kovach’s posts. He is not a historian, but certainly knows everything and better then anyone else about historical events of every proportion. He especially knows it better from those who actually focused on a particular subject. He will research the “very extensive, and not one sentence issue” and “will attempt to put [his] thoughts together. It will take some time, particularly if sources are given also” but he will be doing it. I am not really sure why he needs the sources to be provided as he seems to already read all the sources. We know that from his strong opinion of others who dare to make any comment without reading all sources available. So,fear not, we will have the answer, that no Ph. D. dissertation can beat.