It’s time to return to the current political situation, although admittedly the flood occupies center stage at the moment. The flood may be a terrible calamity for some and an expensive item in the national budget, but so far Viktor Orbán is the hands-down winner in this particular political game. Learning from the disaster of the late winter snowstorm when government performance was abysmal, the prime minister made sure that all would go smoothly. Orbán considers the Danubian flood an opportunity to bolster his and his party’s popularity. While other prime ministers or presidents make brief appearances on the levees, assuring people of the government’s assistance, Viktor Orbán became the general manager of the operation, handing down orders and looking like the man who is actually running the show. Mind you, here and there the propaganda films made on the spot reveal that Orbán knows next to nothing about the waterways. One day perhaps I will share a couple of excerpts from his weighty conversations on the state of the levees and the rise of the water. They are pretty hilarious.
But let’s move on to non-crisis politics because there are some interesting developments. A couple of days ago a newspaperman asked Attila Mesterházy whether he would accept the nomination of his party to be the next prime minister of Hungary. He answered in the affirmative. Gordon Bajnai’s supporters were outraged and interpreted his answer as a sign that MSZP wants to go it alone at the next election. They took Mesterházy’s answer as a repudiation of his earlier insistence on common action by all the democratic parties and civic groups.
This reaction was somewhat hasty. Bajnai supporters seemed to have forgotten that Bajnai on March 2 announced that, if asked, he would say yes to running as a candidate to be the next prime minister of Hungary. Certainly both people are capable and at the moment the front runners for the job. In my opinion, the question is which candidate will be able to maximize the number of votes on the anti-Fidesz political side.
So, let’s see what the situation is at the moment. Here I will give some details from Medián’s latest public opinion poll that was released on June 5. Since we are getting closer to the national election people are becoming a bit more engaged in the political process. After two and a half years this was the first time that 50% of the eligible voters said they would definitely vote next year. At the same time the percentage of undecided voters decreased to 33%, another record after two and a half years. And while two or three years before an election the figures pertaining to active voters are pretty useless, as we get closer to the actual date of the election they become more reliable. Of those sampled who had an opinion, Fidesz garnered 45% of the votes to the democratic opposition’s 40%. When asked their opinion on the performance of the Orbán government, only 31% responded in the affirmative; 56% would like to have a change of government.
As things stand at the moment, the opposition’s favorite is Gordon Bajnai. It is especially significant that non-MSZP voters and those who are otherwise undecided prefer Bajnai by a large margin.
A couple of days ago I expressed my dissatisfaction with Együtt 2014-PM’s strategy, and my opinion has not changed after seeing these figures. I still think that Gordon Bajnai’s mad scramble for the non-existent moderate conservatives who would be ready to vote for the anti-Fidesz forces is worse than a waste of time. Any kind of compromise with an autocratic regime that is rapidly marching toward a sophisticated post-communist dictatorship would most likely be repugnant to those who would like a regime change.
The historian Zoltán Ripp mentioned in one of his articles that from the very first moment of the second Orbán government he considered Orbán’s new political regime “counterrevolutionary.” The new prime minister was talking about a “revolution in the voting booths,” but according to Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794) we can talk about a revolution only if its goal is the widening of freedom. This is certainly not the case in today’s Hungary. Thus any kind of compromise with Fidesz is out of the question for a democrat, concludes Ripp.
Finally, Medián also measured the popularity of Hungarian politicians. The most popular, János Áder, got a whopping 46 points on a scale of 0-100. Viktor Orbán was second with 35 points, and then came Mesterházy with 33 points and Bajnai with 32 points. The “most hated politician” Ferenc Gyurcsány received 22 points. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when there is only a 24-point difference between the most liked and the most hated politician in the country. Perhaps once the anti-Fidesz forces get together and start campaigning against Fidesz and not against each other their reputations will improve somewhat. Let’s hope so. Without parties and politicians there is no parliamentary system and no democracy.