By-elections in Hódmezővásárhely: Fewer Fidesz, more MSZP votes in a “Fidesz citadel”

Although I have some difficulty tearing myself away from the juicy stories arising seemingly every minute regarding Viktor Orbán’s shady deal with the Azeri dictator, I guess we should take a breather from the topic. I’m sure we’ll have ample cause to return to it soon enough.

So, for a change of pace, let’s take a quick look at the mayoral election in Hódmezővásárhely, a middle-sized city on the Great Plains–that is, on the left bank of the Danube. Most of the towns in this part of the country began as large villages. They were called “mezőváros.” “Város” means city; “mező,” field. The main occupations of the inhabitants were connected in one way or another to agricultural activities.

Hódmezővásárhely began as a typical “mezőváros” and it remained so until the 1960s when the state began an industrialization campaign. Nonetheless,  in 1973 there were still ten collective farms within the city limits. It was a town whose population didn’t change all that much from the 1930s.

One of the most startling facts about Hódmezővásárhely is that since 1990, the year of the first free election after the regime change, the inhabitants of the town always elected right-wing politicians. And usually with an absolute majority. Therefore, when it was announced that János Lázár (Fidesz), who had been mayor of the town since 2002, would have to relinquish his job in order to accept the the post of chief-of-staff of the prime minister’s office, everybody predicted that regardless of how unpopular Fidesz might be nationwide the deputy mayor, István Almási (Fidesz), will sail into office. MSZP did so miserably two years ago that Andrea Kis (MSZP), who was running again at the by-election last Sunday, received only 8.27% of the votes in 2010. The same István Almási got 67%.

Andrea Kis, MSZP candidate for the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely

But obviously the political atmosphere in this town has shifted in the last two years, even if not radically. Andrea Kis, a high school teacher, reported that it was easy to collect the necessary number of endorsements. And this despite the fact that Almási, following the Fidesz practice of collecting an inordinate number of endorsements in order to make the opponent’s task more difficult, received ten times the necessary number of endorsements. As it turned out, he got more endorsements than actual votes. Kis also reported that she experienced a much friendlier reception than was customary for an MSZP candidate.

One reason for the changed atmosphere, beside the disappointment with the Orbán government’s performance in general, was the recognition that János Lázár had engaged in  fiscally irresponsible policies. He managed to make Hódmezővásárhely the most indebted town in the country. And, believe me, that’s quite a feat.

No, of course, Kis didn’t become mayor. István Almási won, but with only 52.31% of the votes, a considerable drop from the 2010 returns. Andrea Kis got 22.72%, a decided improvement over her meager 8.27% two years ago. Her performance is especially respectable if we take a quick look at past election returns in Hódmezővásárhely, national and local.

In 1990 the candidate of the most right-wing party of the time, the Smallholders party, received 61.5% of the votes.  Came the local elections in the fall and, while practically everywhere else the government parties experienced significant losses, in Hódmezővásárhely everything remained the same. The Smallholders won and together with MDF and the Christian Democrats they had a large majority on the city council.

At the 1994 national elections where the right received an almost fatal blow, a Christian Democratic candidate, András Rapcsák, won the election with 48% of the votes against MSZP’s 33%. That was at the time that nationwide MSZP had an absolute majority in parliament. The local election of the same year also ended with an overwhelming majority for the  Christian Democratic candidate, András Rapcsák. He received 76.3% of the votes. In 1998 at the national elections the Fidesz candidate triumphed again. Rapcsák, now a parliamentary candidate of Fidesz, received more than 50% in the electoral district and in Hódmezővásárhely 53.65%. Rapcsák’s success continued in the fall local elections: he received 60% of the votes.

In 2000 there was a by-election held in the electoral district as well as in Hódmezővásárhely and it seems that the town was actually moving further to the right. Rapcsák, supported by Fidesz, won the election but he was almost beaten by the Smallholders’ candidate.

In 2002 Rapcsák died suddenly and the young János Lázár, who was Rapcsák’s right-hand man in city hall, ran to succeed him in parliament. Lázár was elected with 56.5% of the votes. He was equally successful in the local election that year. In 2006, after Ferenc Gyurcsány’s fateful speech at Balatonőszöd, Lázár won again with 72.1% of the votes to be reelected as mayor of Hódmezővásárhely. Meanwhile MSZP became weaker and weaker, and by the 2010 national elections MSZP received only 13.13% of the votes.

Although Fidesz talked about a great win after the election last Sunday, the results in fact showed a considerable weakening of the party’s position in Hódmezővásárhely, a town that Magyar Nemzet described as “a Fidesz citadel.” Especially since MSZP’s campaign efforts were apparently meager. MSZP politicians, I think rightly, said that the election results “were a step in the right direction.” After all, 22.7%  is a great deal better than 8.2% However, the results also indicate that given a fairly strong Jobbik showing (14%) and an independent candidate who won 10% of the votes, MSZP will need allies. Currently neither LMP nor DK has a strong enough organization in Hódmezővásárhely to compete in the mayoral race. And this doesn’t bode well for the future of the democratic opposition at the next national election.

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Petofi1
Guest

Just a question, Eva: Was it Szijjarto that went to Cyprus lately or some other government member?

Miklos
Guest

Eva, why are you attacking Hungary so visciously? Isn’t it time for Jews and Hungarians to make peace and forgive each other for the past? There are some of us who are ready for that but you are clearly not one of us. What you do is just the opposite. Please stop doing what you are doing. Thanks.

Guest

@Miklos: Dr. Balogh is not viciously attacking Hungary. She writes about injustices and wrongs from a legal and moral perspective with a view to inform and question the behaviors of the current leaders. For me, this is based not in hate, but in love.
I recognize that I am not addressing the Jewish/Hungarian question you raise because your question turns on ignoring the past.

An
Guest

@Miklos: Attacking Hungary? Since when criticizing one’s government is attacking the country? Do you live in a democratic country? Do you want to? If yes, you need to learn the difference.

Member

@Miklos: Can you please give an example of the “vicious attacks”? Also FYI professor Balogh is not Jewish.

petofi
Guest

Miklos :
Eva, why are you attacking Hungary so visciously? Isn’t it time for Jews and Hungarians to make peace and forgive each other for the past? There are some of us who are ready for that but you are clearly not one of us. What you do is just the opposite. Please stop doing what you are doing. Thanks.

Invasion of the Trolls….
What have the Hungarians to forgive the Jews for? Not dying
fast enough?
Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute: in Hungary,
there’s an idiot born every minute.
Was all teaching slanted in the schools?

petofi
Guest

Miklos is the classic Hungarian: can’t think; is prejudiced to the end of time; confused and paranoid–what a lovely combo!

Cherry17
Guest

@Miklos: Have you not heard about freedom of speech? How come you take the courage and tell Eva to stop expressing her views? If you don’t like it you can visit ‘kurucinfo ‘.

Dubious
Guest

petofi :

Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute: in Hungary,
there’s an idiot born every minute.

petofi :
Miklos is the classic Hungarian: can’t think; is prejudiced to the end of time; confused and paranoid–what a lovely combo!

C’mon, Petőfi. Miklos is obviously an idiot on a number of different levels. No need to use it to generalise about an entire nation. That’s as intellectually lazy, as illogical, and as nonsensical as what Miklos wrote.

Zsuzsa
Guest

No Petofi, it’s not the schools. Up until the regime change, Hungarians got their information via “Szabad Europa”. That was their trusted link to the free world. Sad but true. They firmly believe people in the west have been fed on a steady diet of Jewish propaganda. They and they alone [Hungarians] know the truth. And the truth is the Jews are taking over the world. I just had a conversation with hazafi relative, who when I asked what about the Chinese, both the USA and Europe functions because of Chinese money, the hazafi told me the Chinese are doing the dirty work for the Jews. How is that for logic? In what world would said 4000 yr old civilization be dictated by a handful of Jewish bankers? I go bang head now.

Member

Despite the fact H.m.vasarhely has been a right-wing stronghold, the result is disastrous for the democratic-minded opposition. Their votes have not increased significantly since 2010 (combine MSzP & Green Left in 2010), after 2 and a half years of Fidesz rule.

The ruling party wins the bi-elections with a mere 17% popular support, destroys democratic institutions, runs amok in economy, but the democratic opposition cannot increase the percentage of votes – sounds nonsensical to me.

The leader of MSzP is a nice guy, but he is just not up for the job to lead the largest opposition party. There should emerge a new, more charismatic leader of the opposition to oust Fidesz – former trade union leader Konya seem to be such personality, but it is difficult to make him widely known due to the almost absolute Fidesz control of the media.

Guest
London Calling! Miklos!!!! Do you have a country-bumpkin moustache? I bet you do! And you probably live in a village backwater. Where your ignorance of a proper democracy is still steeped in the one-thousand-year-old-victorious-Hungarian-Nation belief – or more accurately delusion. “………..some of us are ready for that” betrays a certain type of thinking – meaning many are not? Probably all your Jobbik friends? I would guess you are about 60+ years old? I find it amazing how certain Hungarians can bring up their formulaic Jewish prejudice straight out of the blue. I first experienced it in a village hardware store – a particularly well-stocked hardware store on the outskirts of Gyor – nothing of the sort exists now in England – and they sell most thing more cheaply than the Supermarkets or Hardware stores (which seem to be going bust in Hungary). (See another Hungary-plus point! – they do sometimes appear on here!) The shop assistant quite out of the blue blamed the Jews for infiltrating the education system – just from a conversation about how difficult I was finding Hungarian! So a final message to Miklos: Go and read up on the true state of global current affairs. Research… Read more »
Miklos
Guest

Please don’t get upset if someone has a different view from yours. No need to patronize me either.

Hungarians and Jews used to get along pretty well up until WWI. Jews had a home in Hungary. Then a few nasty things were committed on both sides (Red Terror (mostly by Jews), White Terror (by Hungarians)) and so on. Then came WWII and Hungarians made a huge mistake deporting their fellow Hungarian Jewish citizens to German camps like animals. Not that they had much of a choice as the Germans (Nazis) would have rounded the Jews up anyway just like they did elsewhere. Nevertheless, it was a hideous act by the Hungarians to let that happen. But it’s time to heal the wounds instead of keeping them open. It’s time to make peace. That’s my wish.
This blog clearly has an agenda. Don’t kid yourselves that this blog is about criticizing a government. It is more than that. It’s apparent hatred is rooted in fear (of nationalism, which it sees as a form of fascism), it’s rooted in pain. And that’s all wrong.
Anyway, that’s just my personal opinion. I thought I share it with you.

Guest

London Calling!

Miklos!!!

Our posts overlapped – and your re-writing of history betrays your ignorance.

Stay in the kotchma.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

London Calling!

Miklos!!!

“……….Hungarians and Jews used to get on pretty well…”

Jews ARE Hungarian; Hungarians are Jews – they are Hungarian citizens – as Hungarian as you are Geddit?

Stay in the kotchma

Regards

Charlie

Member

Bi-elections? Are you suggesting there were two elections? Or perhaps that Andrea Kis is bisexual? (Cool!)
I believe you mean “by-election,” meaning between two general elections.

Guest

London Calling!

AGK!!!

Your wit is very welcome – very funny.

Your timing was perfect – I was losing it with Miklos – I hope it doesn’t show!!

Regards

Charlie

Csoda. Kegy
Guest

Nicely said, CharlieH, but I fear not strong enough (!). Miklos is talking race and nationality, not citizenship. But like 99.99% of the population (I suspect), he forgets that the “Hungarian” nation is a melange of principally non-magyar peoples. Like English people the composition has always been distinctly mixed. I hope Prof Balogh will correct me if I venture that, unlike England, Hungary started life as very tolerant of all peoples but has sadly progressed in the opposite direction. Apologies if this is OT, but in view of the columnspace already on this subject I think it needs to be said.

Member
Eva – I am afraid I cannot support your conclusion that “obviously the political atmosphere in [Hodmezovasarhely] has shifted in the last two years, even if not radically.” A by-election is simply not a good way to gauge the political atmosphere of any town — especially not a town where the winner is a foregone conclusion. You will certainly remember that MIEP candidates regularly beat the SZDSZ’s candidates — sometimes by double-digit margins — in by-elections during 1998-2002. At the 2002 general election, the SZDSZ survived while MIEP fell out of Parliament. Why is this? Because “normal” people do not vote in by-elections. Generally speaking, by-elections attract the party faithful, political junkies and people who are REALLY pissed off at the government. Hence MIEP’s strong performance 10-15 years ago. These days, the people who are REALLY pissed off are Socialists and Liberals. So it is not surprising that Kis’ performance improved since 2010. Moreover, the Fidesz-MSZMP faithful knew that Almasi was a shoo-in, so why take a half hour out of a beautiful Sunday afternoon to vote? Especially with the harvest coming up soon? Turnout in Hodmezovasarhely was 33% on Sept. 2. At the 2012 municipal elections, it was a… Read more »
petofi
Guest
Miklos : Please don’t get upset if someone has a different view from yours. No need to patronize me either. Hungarians and Jews used to get along pretty well up until WWI. Jews had a home in Hungary. Then a few nasty things were committed on both sides (Red Terror (mostly by Jews), White Terror (by Hungarians)) and so on. Then came WWII and Hungarians made a huge mistake deporting their fellow Hungarian Jewish citizens to German camps like animals. Not that they had much of a choice as the Germans (Nazis) would have rounded the Jews up anyway just like they did elsewhere. Nevertheless, it was a hideous act by the Hungarians to let that happen. But it’s time to heal the wounds instead of keeping them open. It’s time to make peace. That’s my wish. This blog clearly has an agenda. Don’t kid yourselves that this blog is about criticizing a government. It is more than that. It’s apparent hatred is rooted in fear (of nationalism, which it sees as a form of fascism), it’s rooted in pain. And that’s all wrong. Anyway, that’s just my personal opinion. I thought I share it with you. Nationalism is BAAAD.… Read more »
petofi
Guest
Zsuzsa : No Petofi, it’s not the schools. Up until the regime change, Hungarians got their information via “Szabad Europa”. That was their trusted link to the free world. Sad but true. They firmly believe people in the west have been fed on a steady diet of Jewish propaganda. They and they alone [Hungarians] know the truth. And the truth is the Jews are taking over the world. I just had a conversation with hazafi relative, who when I asked what about the Chinese, both the USA and Europe functions because of Chinese money, the hazafi told me the Chinese are doing the dirty work for the Jews. How is that for logic? In what world would said 4000 yr old civilization be dictated by a handful of Jewish bankers? I go bang head now. Zsuzsa, you’re a pleasure to read, and gives one hope for other Hungarians to lift themselves from the morass that is Hungarian prejudice and thought. I suppose, you’re some sort of miracle. Anyway, 40 years in Canada and I’ve never been to the west coast but will make that up next year when we plan to drive around much of Vancouver Island. Hope to run… Read more »
Guest

@Miklos:

Are you blind to the Antisemitism that’s raging in Hungary again ?

Just look at politics.hu and some people there or maybe Hungarianambience – or better listen to Jobbik (I can’t because I’d have to puke …)

And btw those rantings at Gypsies and “Gypsie Crime” etc – do you think that’s normal behaviour for a civilesed country in the 21st century ?

petofi
Guest
AGK : Eva – I am afraid I cannot support your conclusion that “obviously the political atmosphere in [Hodmezovasarhely] has shifted in the last two years, even if not radically.” A by-election is simply not a good way to gauge the political atmosphere of any town — especially not a town where the winner is a foregone conclusion. You will certainly remember that MIEP candidates regularly beat the SZDSZ’s candidates — sometimes by double-digit margins — in by-elections during 1998-2002. At the 2002 general election, the SZDSZ survived while MIEP fell out of Parliament. Why is this? Because “normal” people do not vote in by-elections. Generally speaking, by-elections attract the party faithful, political junkies and people who are REALLY pissed off at the government. Hence MIEP’s strong performance 10-15 years ago. These days, the people who are REALLY pissed off are Socialists and Liberals. So it is not surprising that Kis’ performance improved since 2010. Moreover, the Fidesz-MSZMP faithful knew that Almasi was a shoo-in, so why take a half hour out of a beautiful Sunday afternoon to vote? Especially with the harvest coming up soon? Turnout in Hodmezovasarhely was 33% on Sept. 2. At the 2012 municipal elections, it… Read more »
Member

CORRECTION: Naturally, I meant 42% at the 2010 municipal elections, not 2012.

petofi
Guest

It’s a good thing Orban knows how to clean up after pigs because that’s what he’s

made of the country: a pigsty.

Member

Look it up! Either is right

Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bi-election?s=t) has no entry for “bii-election.”

It has “by-election” or “bye-election.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/by-election

Tyrker
Guest
“a fairly strong Jobbik showing (14%) and an independent candidate who won 10% of the votes” This is actually the key sentence [fragment] in this post. The truth is, the Left did not make significant gains in Hódmezővásárhely versus 2010. The extreme right did. In 2010, Ms. Kis received 8.27% of the votes – this is correct. But at the same elections, the candidate of the so-called Green Left polled at 12.31%, meaning the Left got a combined 20.58% of the votes. This year, Ms. Kis had no left-wing opponents at all, so she was able to scoop up all the left-wing votes. Her result of 22.72% is undoubtedly higher than the 20.58% she and the other left-wing candidate achieved two years ago – but is only a fraction of the >14 percentage-point loss suffered by Fidesz. Most of the ex-Fidesz voters have turned to the extreme right. Whilst Jobbik alone did not do significantly better than two years ago (14.01% now versus 12.73% then), the officially “independent” candidate – who happens to be the president of the right-wing radical Magyarok Szövetsége Egyesület – won 10.95% of the votes, gaining the lion’s share of what Fidesz has lost. The extreme… Read more »
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