A quick look at the results of the Hungarian election

The interest in the Hungarian election is incredibly high on Hungarian Spectrum. The number of visitors more than doubled today. I’m sure that some of them were disappointed to see no new post analyzing the results. But the numbers began to trickle in very late, and the fate of some districts is still undecided. It looks, however, as if Fidesz will have 132 seats in parliament, enough for a two-thirds majority. This feat was achieved with only 44-45% of the popular vote. The new electoral system favors the winner that much. Four years ago Fidesz needed at least 52.5% to achieve that magic number.

Yes, the democratic opposition did very badly, but still better than four years ago. If you recall, in 2010 there was only one district in Budapest that was won by an MSZP candidate. This time that number will be considerably higher. Yes, it is true, as many of you remarked in the comments, it looks as if the Left lost everything except the capital. But four years ago they also lost practically the whole city. There are some high points. I find it amazing, for instance, that Szilárd Németh, the grand prophet of utility decreases and mayor of Csepel, lost to the candidate of the democratic opposition. And that Ágnes Kunhalmi was able to win in the district in which Gábor Simon was supposed to run. And that Ferenc Papcsák of Zugló lost the election. These are the bright spots.

Valasztasok 2014 Budapest

It is also true that the election campaign that was orchestrated by Fidesz cannot be considered a campaign in the traditional sense of the word. In democratic countries the parties of the opposition have a more or less equal opportunity to reach the electorate. This was not the case in Orbán’s Hungary.

Yet one must admit that the democratic opposition’s performance in the last four years, ever since Gordon Bajnai offered himself as the man around whom the parties of the opposition could gather, has been abysmal. This is not the time to list all the mistakes he and Attila Mesterházy made. It is enough to say that they wasted at least a year and a half of precious time. It doesn’t matter how often one repeats that a month or even two weeks are enough time to campaign, this is self-delusion, especially when one’s opponents are campaigning all through their four years in office.

When I began this post, there was no word yet from Attila Mesterházy. Gordon Bajnai made a nice speech but, if I understand him right, he is planning to go it alone and sever relations with the others in the Unity Alliance. If that is the case, I can’t think of a worse reaction to the defeat. As it stands, Együtt 2014-PM will have two parliamentary members: Gordon Bajnai and Tímea Szabó. One needs at least five people to form a parliamentary caucus. DK, if all goes well, will have four members. Again, not enough to form a caucus. Ferenc Gyurcsány hoped to be able to form a separate DK caucus, but now that it is unlikely. I assume he has the good sense to promote a joint effort of the parties within the Unity Alliance in the next parliament unless perhaps he can convince Gábor Fodor of the liberals to join him. That is the only reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. If Bajnai, who perhaps spoke too hastily, decides against cooperation, I believe he will seal the fate of Együtt 2014-PM.

In order to cheer up those who kept fingers crossed for the anti-Orbán forces I suggest taking a look at the electoral maps of 2010 and 2014 on the site of the National Electoral office. Yes, this year’s map looks terribly orange but four years ago it was even worse. That’s some consolation, albeit admittedly small.

111 comments

  1. I think the implications of the rise of the radical right in central Europe are simply enormous. The Jobbik vote of 20.7% of which at least 5% are likely Magyar Nemzeti Garda sympathizers indicates very big problems ahead for Hungary’s relationship with the EU and problems for the human rights of Roma.

    The Fascist Garda in an article about one of its “commemorations” discusses how it has become effectively legitimatized stating the author was “still surprised when I do not see the army of flashing police car that was ” essential ” accessory for this event for years. Last year and this year , however, there is only one patrol car on the opposite side of the road . Perhaps the police found out that you do not have to be afraid of us.” Yes, fascism is now becoming legitimate in Hungary, shall the state build a memorial to Ferenc Szalasi?

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  2. If the ”democratic opposition” has no chance of winning democratic elections, then one wonders how ”democratic” this ”democratic opposition” actually is? 😉

    whoever :
    I know people want to look at the bright side but this map sums up the situation.
    ” rel=”nofollow”>
    This is a map of the parties who came in second place.
    There is no way back from this in the forseeable future. There is no way that the democratic opposition can win, when its former heartlands in the East/North East has been so effectively plundered. It really is Game Over. Unless somehow, as if by magic, Jobbik disappear, the maths just doesn’t add up. And if Fidesz screw up totally, then there is little doubt what will happen to the Fidesz voter base.

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  3. But the view that economically speaking MSzP has been to the right of conservatives (MDF and now Fidesz) is supported by Western authors, too. See e.g. Bodan Todosijević The Hungarian Voter: Left–Right Dimension as a Clue to Policy Preferences in International Political Science Review (2004), Vol 25, No. 4, p. 421

    Malna :

    whoever :

    Who would vote for more competition, more open markets, foreign ownership, privatized health care (for which the Left stands, at least a good media case can be made for those), when they can have the strong and protective Fidesz and Jobbik?

    Bloody weird idea of a Left you have, and wayyyyy outside the international norms. If you’re going to call it something, try Reformism or neo-liberalism, but exposing healthcare to the same pressures as the highly inefficient US system is not Leftist!

    I was exaggerating of course to make a point, but it is a fact that a leftist government (under Gyurcsány with the SZDSZ) introduced co-payment, and a host of transparency, rationality rules and wanted to (did) privatize some of the smaller, quite hopeless country-side hospitals, all of which were fiercely resisted by all involved constituencies.
    Fidesz successfully killed these efforts: eventually the government diluted the reforms so that the pain was felt, but there were no results. In any case, the right wing media empire can trump this up these experiences. The Hungarian Left now has a reputation in the country as a capitalist party (the party of “communist oligarchs and billionaires” like Gyurcsány and Bajnai — never mind the truth content of these stories, the point is people believe them and act accordingly).

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  4. I know there have been many problems with MSZP governments in the past, but looking back, I don’t actually think the MSZP/SZDSZ government from 2002-2006 were really ‘right wing’ in any tangible sense, and Medgyessy was a kind of social liberal/social democrat. As for 2006-2008 – it was a mess, from beginning to end, all sorts of half-baked attempts to privatise this and cut that, in amongst the chaos. I think the MSZP’s infrastructure projects were a form of interventionism. However, their view of the domestic economy was very neglectful, I feel, both from a Keynesian and a supply-side perspective. On the whole though, they didn’t introduce workfare, introduce a flat income tax and slap regressive taxes on almost everything. The MSZP economic policy was barely economics at all, but it was still more left-wing than Fidesz!

    At the core of this, interpretations of the 1994-1998 Horn government vary widely, but many credible commentators suggest that the adoption of the Bokros package was done somewhat reluctantly – the MSZP didn’t suddenly become wholesale economic liberals, but drifted/were pushed into the course at that particular time. Put simply, I don’t think the MSZP had/have a working philosophy for governance and they tend to follow the path of least resistance.

    And the idea that there was any real wiggle-room in many areas of Hungarian fiscal policy after the 2008 GFC is a fantasy, I suspect. Certainly Mark on this site and others did suggest ways to loosen up policy and go more for growth. At the same time, one certainly couldn’t accuse Fidesz of going for growth in the last few years… at all.

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  5. Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    Kunhalmi lost by 22 votes, but there are still 2000 votes outstanding!

    Where do these outstanding votes come from?

    Victor will now unveil a Felcsutian trick: in the recount, Kunhalmi will win!
    And now, Felcsutian humor at full throttle, Orban, being 1 seat short of 2/3, will throw his arms up, and declare, I’ve been ‘forced’ to do it….and invite Jobbik to join the government ruling party.

    The fun begins…

    HAJRA MAGYAROK!!!

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  6. petofi :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    Kunhalmi lost by 22 votes, but there are still 2000 votes outstanding!

    Where do these outstanding votes come from?

    Victor will now unveil a Felcsutian trick: in the recount, Kunhalmi will win!
    And now, Felcsutian humor at full throttle, Orban, being 1 seat short of 2/3, will throw his arms up, and declare, I’ve been ‘forced’ to do it….and invite Jobbik to join the government ruling party.

    The fun begins…

    HAJRA MAGYAROK!!!

    I don’t think it will be necessary. They will find the vote in Transylvania.

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  7. Lokalkosmopolit :
    Good point.

    THE REAL DEMOCRACY :
    Using the UK electorial system in Hungary, there would have 189 Fidesz-KDNP MPs (95%) now and 10 MPs from your postcommie/libnazi favourites. :)

    Yes! Thank goodness Fidesz democratically (not like under the communists) reformatted the election law on a way that they needed less vote to win now then to loose in 2002 and 2006!
    Maybe in the next four year they will insert some points so even with two total vote they could win! That way only Kover and Orban has to go to the election boots and Hungary will spare all the money!

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  8. LMP did a favor to Fidesz in Budapest… if they had joined the united opposition, the democratic opposition could have won most individual districts in Budapest. And I doubt Orban would be this close to 2/3.

    Of course, it would have still been a clear Fidesz win in the rest of the country.

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  9. Judging by my facebook friends, if LMP had joined the united opposition, they would not have voted for them. I think you under estimate how profoundly unimpressive many people found Unity which is why someone as profoundly unimpressive as Schiffer has been proven correct. Annoying but there you have it.

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  10. Eva S. Balogh :

    petofi :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    Kunhalmi lost by 22 votes, but there are still 2000 votes outstanding!

    Where do these outstanding votes come from?

    Victor will now unveil a Felcsutian trick: in the recount, Kunhalmi will win!
    And now, Felcsutian humor at full throttle, Orban, being 1 seat short of 2/3, will throw his arms up, and declare, I’ve been ‘forced’ to do it….and invite Jobbik to join the government ruling party.
    The fun begins…
    HAJRA MAGYAROK!!!

    I don’t think it will be necessary. They will find the vote in Transylvania.

    I’m gonna take a wild guess that Orban will suppress those Transylvanian votes.
    He wants Jobbik in government…just to aggravate the international, jewish, cabal!

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  11. @HiBoM

    “I think you under estimate how profoundly unimpressive many people found Unity…”

    Agreed. But surely the worst part was to have Mesterhazy as the leader! It should’ve been
    Bajnai. Or, if they had had the sense to invite Bokros, he would’ve been ideal. Anyone but
    Mesterhazy. I suppose Gyurcsany–forever hachet-jobbed–could not be picked. Maybe, a joint Bajnai-Bokros ticket would’ve been best.

    And please stop all this nonsense talk of the failure of the Left! Hungarians wouldn’t know ideology if it hit them in the face. Even if they did, they don’t care about it. Give them an attractive face, a heroic voice praising their talents and achievements (? sic!)….and the
    Hungarian Everyman is filled to satisfaction.

    But back to Bajnai…he’s ever more impressive as he gains his footing. He has to dump that advisor. They should’ve had him stomping the countryside 6 months ago, with speeches ever more fiery as he went. Bajnai is the future of the country: I hope he has the staying power to see it though.

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  12. petofi :
    But back to Bajnai…he’s ever more impressive as he gains his footing. He has to dump that advisor. They should’ve had him stomping the countryside 6 months ago, with speeches ever more fiery as he went. Bajnai is the future of the country: I hope he has the staying power to see it though.

    They should have, indeed. A slight blemish, though that six months ago he couldn’t even decide if he really want to do this whole “Unity” thing… Unfortunately he kept procrastinating trough the best part of previous year, effectively nullifying the initial momentum what they indeed have had at the beginning. People lost enthusiasm, then hope, finally interest, and then they started negotiating again, and so on.
    A pity, really, since I expressed already he grew into a role to last few weeks, too late by then.

    Remember, Bajnai never before acted as a full blown politician,- wasn’t necessary I guess – he was the quiet professional but hardly more, let alone a campaign orator, so, compared to his previous life he made quite a leap.
    Next time he will come with more experience, I hope.

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  13. There will be “blood on the street”. Hungarians will soon start mass demonstrations against Orban, demanding to increase the cost of living by raising taxes, increase the cost of gas, electricity etc., impose more burden on the ordinary people and most importantly, stop telling them how fantastic and talented they are.

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