Serious questions about Fidesz’s election results

The first foreign media reactions to the results of the Hungarian election were anything but enthusiastic, but now that the dust has settled and there has been time to take a look at the figures, it is dawning on journalists and analysts that these “fantastic” results were achieved in a highly dubious manner. Even the raw figures give food for thought. How is it possible to achieve a two-thirds parliamentary majority with less than 44% of the votes? And then there is the disturbing statistic that among voters outside of Hungary’s borders 95% opted for Fidesz. Pictures showed vote collecting in street stalls in Transylvania, the source of most of the votes, with no attempt to even feign secret balloting. The ease with which these new citizens could cast their ballots as opposed to the difficulties expats in the United States, Canada, Australia, and western Europe encountered when they tried to register and actually vote makes critics question the intentions of the government. The final verdict most likely will be that Fidesz won this election before a single vote was cast.

Viktor Orbán’s team designed an electoral system that pretty well guaranteed Fidesz a two-thirds majority, which ensures that Viktor Orbán can rule Hungary, with the help of his 133-135 minions in parliament, as a prime minister of unlimited power. A Russian journalist, Leonid Bershidsky, who works for Bloomberg, called Orbán’s Hungary “the European Union’s only dictatorship,” and he compared Orbán to Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdoğan. One could argue that it is incorrect to describe Viktor Orbán as “a ruler exercising absolute power without the free consent of the people” because after all he won two elections. Moreover, he is “restricted by a constitution, laws, recognized opposition.” But, given the two-thirds majority, any law can be changed. And indeed laws were changed to fit the needs of the government all through the last four years. As we know, the constitution was also changed several times, and there is nothing to prevent Orbán’s parliament from changing it again. As for the consent of the people, well, one could argue that point, especially if we look at the 2014 election. Because although it is true that Fidesz won the 2010 election fair and square, we cannot say the same about this past election. Finally, a dictator according to the dictionary definition rules without an opposition. Well, in our case there is an opposition in the sense that there are a few dozen people who can make speeches in parliament, but they are unable to make a difference. Orbán’s team can forge ahead without any effective parliamentary opposition. For the time being, the majority of judges still come out with some surprisingly fair decisions, but Orbán already managed to get his own men on an enlarged constitutional court and tried to decapitate the judiciary by sending seasoned judges into retirement at the age of 62. The system that was introduced resembles the political setup of the Horthy regime (1920-1944) which Orbán, it seems, finds attractive.

Perhaps Leonid Bershidsky’s description is too strong, although he knows Putin’s Russia quite well, but other West European journalists also find the Hungarian situation serious. For example, Cathrin Kahlweit, writing for Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), talks of Orbán’s laying down “the foundations for a permanent one-party government” achieved by “the declaration of a permanent revolution.” And these journalists call attention to the dangers this new breed of populists pose to the European Union. In Austria, Wolfgang Müller-Funk, professor of cultural studies at the Institute of European and Comparative Linguistics and Literature at the University of Vienna, calls Orbán’s system “Führer-Demokratie,” which is a threat to Europe. MDR, a radio and television station from Leipzig, called Orbán “a political predator” and compared him to Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin.

Viktor Orbán at one of his press conferences in Brussels / Photo: dpa

Viktor Orbán at one of his press conferences in Brussels / Photo: dpa

Let’s see  what Freedom House had to say about “the state of democracy in Hungary.” According to its report, “the changes initiated by Fidesz contributed to an outcome that was both less than fair and of benefit to Fidesz, as critics predicted. Indeed, Hungarian analysts suggest that without the electoral revisions, the party would have lost the supermajority it has enjoyed since 2010.” And Freedom House’s report didn’t even mention one of the most unfair features of the new Hungarian electoral law, the so-called “reform of the compensation list.” András Jámbor, a communications expert, wrote a piece for Al-Jazeera in which he described the system as one “where votes for individual candidates who did not win their electorate were transferred to their party list, originally designed to amass votes received by runners-up in districts – have now also allowed district winners (in most cases Fidesz candidates) to add their surplus votes to party lists, widening the gap between winners and their contenders, and bringing seven more seats for Fidesz.” 

The Freedom House report also called attention to the far too cozy relationship between Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán. “It’s worth noting that the Hungarian election coincided with one of the most serious foreign policy crises faced by Europe since the Cold War’s end: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea. On this critical issue, Orbán has had surprisingly little to say. He and his foreign ministry have issued anodyne statements of mild criticism for Russia’s action, questioned the sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe, and made reassuring declarations about the safety of ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region.” The author of the article, Arch Puddington, vice-president for research, finds this attitude especially incongruous given Orbán’s anti-communist stand in the past. Moreover, he was until recently an outspoken critic of Putin’s authoritarian regime. He concludes that “Fidesz’s policies, both at home and abroad, are far from reassuring.”

It is likely that the combined effect of this questionable election and Orbán’s new pro-Russian policy will have a negative effect on his already strained relations with the United States and the European Union and will lead to the further isolation of Hungary in the community of western democracies. But Orbán doesn’t fret about isolation–at least as long as the EU money keeps flowing. As Jonathan Swift wrote (and Orbán’s quote-happy speechwriters might consider including at the appropriate time),“When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

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petofi
Guest

The money that keeps Orban afloat is not the EU money, it’s the readily available buyer–one specific buyer in the US–of Hungarian government bonds. Rather fishy, this company’s complete faith, ain’t it?

tarnoki
Guest
“How is it possible to achieve a two-thirds parliamentary majority with less than 44% of the votes?” First of all, you used false data for the election results, so that’s one thing that is part of the explanation. Far from being “under 44%”, the actual, real result was 2 264 730 votes for Fidesz, 45,04 % of the total. It helps to find explanations if the data are grounded in reality. http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv14/szavossz/hu/orszlist.html Secondly MSZP received only 25.67% which means it suffered a crushing defeat, a landslide of epic proportions with losing by almost 20 percentage points. A historic loss for MSZP. So that’s explanation number two: politics is a competitive game, much like many sports. Your question can be translated into: How is it possible for Barcelona to win if they only score 4 goals? The last game they scored 7 so four goals is a very bad result for them. How can they possibly win with only four goals??? Well the other team only scored two goals this time, so the explanation is quite simple. Under the UK system Fidesz would have taken over 90% of the seats. Under the system of the United States, a 45% Democratic Party… Read more »
An
Guest

I wonder without gerrymandering the election districts, using fake mini parties to confuse votes and take votes away from the opposition, using the votes from Hungarians beyond the borders, manipulating gypsies to vote for Fidesz, restricting the opposition’s campaign opportunities, what would have been the outcome… maybe a Fidesz victory, but we’ll never know. These machinations add up. Why not win fair and square if you can?

Paul
Guest
Unfortunately, none of this will make any difference (and nor would not achieving 2/3 majority – friendly Jobbik MPs would have been co-opted, perhaps even encouraged to defect). Orbán has absolute power for another 4 years, probably much longer. There will no significant recovery of the left and no rebellion on the streets. The EU and the US can/will do nothing. We have to forget the past, forget our grievances and injustices, and deal with the reality of the present (and future). For many years to come, Hungary is going to be an increasingly alien country. Those of us attached to it by birth or adoption are either going to have to walk away and try to forget, or somehow adapt to the new reality. I’m not advocating giving in and accepting Orbán’s victory, we must obviously keep the flags of democracy and justice flying and do what we can to prepare for the day when Orbán’s reign finally comes to an end. But, in the meantime, we have to learn to accept Hungary as it is (and the Hungarians as they are), rather than how we wish it/they would be. I have no idea how we do this, neither… Read more »
Paul
Guest

tarnokt posted while I was writing my post, but I think we are saying much the same thing.

We have to face reality.

Minusio
Guest
Why so meek, Éva? First I’d like to say that most journalists followed an uninformed mainstream opinion that said THE Hungarians have decided to follow in Orbán’s fold for another four years, without looking in how this “Machtergreifung” was staged from day one, no: even long before the elections in 2010. To my mind the hapless coalition of the willing that took three years to forge and three days to fall apart (cit. Pester Lloyd) should have boycotted the elections and pointed to all the anomalies that made another 2/3 Fidesz majority inevitable. But isn’t the main point that we all heard Orbán say in 2010 (or was it even before?) that he wanted power and keep it for 10-20 years? The only thing he didn’t mention then was that he also wanted to become filthy rich before he spends his waning days in Florida. Otherwise he didn’t bother the voters with any grand designs such as a new constitution, stealing the pension funds, increasing national debt and increasing actual fear among many members of the general public. In other words, he didn’t even have any party programme proper. But he did have the media. Now what will the result… Read more »
martin
Guest

The left as an ideology is dead. All over the world. Why? I don’t know. But look at Israel, where as the Holocaust-survivor lefty Ashkenazis died out and were replaced by the communist-hater Russian immigrants and the ultra-orthodox, who grew due to their demography. Now, the left is out of the picture, nobody cares about the ideology, it is thought of as an old, uncool thing. Meanwhile people like the projection of power by politics.

Csepi Karoly
Guest
Interestingly it is exactly Russia and Turkey with which Jobbik would like to have stronger relationships. Putin and Erdogan are the role models of Jobbik, to be emulated. Note though that people support all three of them enthusiastically. Only the declining number of lefties do not like Orban, but most people are way happy. Sure they complain, but they like the situation enough to vote for Orban. They do not think this is a dictatorship, because they do not feel that. It feels a dictatorship only to those who are the ‘internal enemies’ (such as liberals, Jews, leftists), and most people are not, for the majority, everything is fine, probably still way to liberal. “Orban does not have enough power yet, he needs to much tougher, because the state apparatus is still full of resisting communists. Orban is working hard, but the communists are tricky, they are everywhere and sabotaging the development of the country.” The EU does not care and will not care. As it was written about, even the German CDU/CSU people adore Orban. Orban uses them like a puppet-master, and he looks down on them as they are just too dumb with their Western well-being. The EU… Read more »
Kim Lane Scheppele
Guest
Tarnoki wrote: “First of all, you used false data for the election results, so that’s one thing that is part of the explanation. Far from being “under 44%”, the actual, real result was 2 264 730 votes for Fidesz, 45,04 % of the total. It helps to find explanations if the data are grounded in reality. ” My reply: Fidesz only got 45% of the vote TODAY – in fact minutes before you added your comment. The Election Office had just finished posted the votes of the new citizens from the neighboring states,with no permanent residence in Hungary to its website, which is what accounts for the differencet. . if you look only at Fidesz’s popularity among domestic voters only, you will see that Fidesz received 43.55% of the vote, precisely what Eva said. In fact, Fidesz lost 21% of its domestic voters between 2010 and 2014. Also, Fidesz’s level of domestic support dropped from 52.7% of the vote in 2010 to 43.55% this time. The only group in which Fidesz’s popularity improved was the group of non-resident Hungarians, whose numbers boosted both turnout and vote totals so that Fidesz didn’t appear to have lost as many voters as it… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest
Kim Lane Scheppele : What democracy with an actual competition of parties has a result like that? The one that comes to mind has democracy in its name (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). It’s true, their results are 99.99% (or 100% lately?) but not to worry, Orban is working on that. Joking aside, I am convinced that the 95.49% of FIDESZ-votes in Transylvania is not an exaggeration or the result of fraud. It is the result of the continuous FIDESZ policy for the support of awarding Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries. Most Hungarians in Transylvania considered this vote a thank you vote for FIDESZ and a revenge vote against all those who opposed this act. I find it interesting that none of my contacts in Transylvania understand my objection to the reversed American taboo of the taxation without representation. They just keep parroting that they are part of the Hungarian Nation. It does not bother them at all, that their vote may reverse the balance of power in Hungary (admittedly this did not happen at this time, but it may happen in the future), affecting those who pay with their taxes for policies that they oppose and… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

A fake party defeated the last vestiges of democracy.

What is Együtt 2014?

Is it http://www.egyutt2014.hu/ ?

No. That is Bajnai, part of MszP- Együtt-DK-PM-MLP.

In this blog I also called Bajnai’s party Együtt 2014 or E14 regularly.

But on January 30, 2014, the National Election Commission

(which consisted of Fidesz appointees only until its March 4 session)

registered the Együtt 2014 party for the election.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/03/11/semmit_nem_lehet_tudni_a_masik_egyutt_2014-rol/

In the crucial BP15 election district, the candidate of the united democratic opposition

MszP- Együtt-DK-PM-MLP received 60 votes less than the Fidesz candidate.

The fake party with the deceiveing name “Együtt 2014” received 197 votes.

http://valasztas.hu/hu/ogyv2014/861/861_0_index.html

Democracy, R.I.P.

tappanch
Guest

Kunhalmi Ágnes MSZP-EGYÜTT-DK-PM-MLP 20 590 37.49 %
Balogh Istvánné EGYÜTT 2014 197 0.36 %
Kucsák László FIDESZ-KDNP 20 650 37.6 %

tappanch
Guest

20590 + 197 > 20650

tappanch
Guest

Fidesz’s new election law gave 149,250,000 HUF of taxpayers’ money to this Együtt 2014 party.

http://vastagbor.blog.hu/2014/03/20/5_8_milliard_allami_tamogatast_kaptak_az_orszagos_listat_allito_partok

kommentelo
Guest

Kim Lane Scheppele :
if you look only at Fidesz’s popularity among domestic voters only, you will see that Fidesz received 43.55% of the vote, precisely what Eva said.

You are wrong. Read the post more carefully. This is what “precisely Eva said” :
“How is it possible to achieve a two-thirds parliamentary majority with less than 44% of the votes?”

“Less then 44% of the votes” is what Eva wrote.

That is the direct opposite of “if you look at Fidesz’s popularity among domestic voters only”, it is a completely different thing.

I wanted to write more but I don’t know if I am allowed to correct mistakes because the question of party loyalty comes up. It is described here http://www.politics.hu/20140318/quotable-eva-balogh-on-party-loyalty/ . Eva S. Balogh the owner of this blog wrote about party loyalty in relation to you and Szigetvari but the concept itself is much larger. Her claim is that Szigetvari -as a follower of a party- should adhere to party loyalty and never criticize (however mildy) those within the broader sphere of his party, such as yourself.

tappanch
Guest

Szigetvari, campaign manager for Együtt 2014 (Bajnai).

“Tiner [of Együtt 2014 party] has told me that his party can withdraw from the election for 100,000 euros in return. I just laughed at him”

„Tiner közölte, hogy százezer euróért visszalép a pártja. Én kiröhögtem.”

http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20140306-szigetvari-az-egyutt-2014-part-szazezer-euroert-visszalepett-volna

DDT
Guest
The fact that a very small 120 000 strong voter group voted for Fidesz in 95% may sound surprising at first. But anyone with even the most basic, minimal knowledge of American politics, can hardly find anything surprising with that at all. Indeed in the US black population voted for the Democratic party in numbers well exceeding 90% for decades now. In recent years this number climbed to 99%. In fact, during the last election there were large areas where Romney did not win a single vote. These are large areas with tens of thousands of people. And not a single Romney voter. Is this more surprising or what? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/romney-earned-zero-votes-in-some-urban-precincts/ In fact a very similar thing is going on here. For decades certain parties harassed, defamed, smeared and mentally terrorized these voters. If we just look at this very discussion I could find at least 10 things that are incredibly offensive (removing these voters from totals as if they were sub-human, discounting their voice even after they finally got citizenship, talking about how they are only capable of “parroting” that they are part of the Hungarian Nation – but they are really not, right guys? :)) If I were such… Read more »
Andras Boros-Kazai
Guest

Orban is not perfect. But if any of the whiners on this site — or throughout much of the Western media — take the trouble and read or, better yet, listen to the texts uttered by Gyurcsany, Mesterhazi, et al , then they must ask themselves: How on God’s green earth did they even dream of winning an election?
This is not difficult: Most of the speeches made by these “gentlemen” and many of their writings are available in English. Just as an example, Gyurcsany several times referred to Hungary, the country, as “ez a kurva orszag.” (For translation, turn to the dictionary.) In which “democratic” election would a candidate using terms like that attract voters/

tappanch
Guest

Why did people vote for Fidesz in small villages where unemployment is 50% to 80%?

They are grateful for the $220 a month the “fostered work” gave them, a program the government run up a few months before the election .

http://nol.hu/lap/ot-kicsi-abszurdot-kicsi-abszurd-1456165

petofi
Guest

Andras Boros-Kazai :
Orban is not perfect. But if any of the whiners on this site — or throughout much of the Western media — take the trouble and read or, better yet, listen to the texts uttered by Gyurcsany, Mesterhazi, et al , then they must ask themselves: How on God’s green earth did they even dream of winning an election?
This is not difficult: Most of the speeches made by these “gentlemen” and many of their writings are available in English. Just as an example, Gyurcsany several times referred to Hungary, the country, as “ez a kurva orszag.” (For translation, turn to the dictionary.) In which “democratic” election would a candidate using terms like that attract voters/

Simple: you call a spade a spade.
The country is populated by hate-filled, lazy, anti-semitic, greedy, envious..group of cheaters.
Kurva is right on.

Judith
Guest

tappanch :
Szigetvari, campaign manager for Együtt 2014 (Bajnai).
“Tiner [of Együtt 2014 party] has told me that his party can withdraw from the election for 100,000 euros in return. I just laughed at him”
„Tiner közölte, hogy százezer euróért visszalép a pártja. Én kiröhögtem.”
http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20140306-szigetvari-az-egyutt-2014-part-szazezer-euroert-visszalepett-volna

The new election law encouraged pratically non-existent parties to run on these elections. One of such parties was Együtt-2014, the other one was Öszefogás party. Both parties received votes due to their deceitful names. It will require a deeper analysis of electoral districts with close results between Fidesz and the democratic opposition to see how many votes were lost to these business parties, as they did have a role in the loss of the coalition led by MSZP.

tappanch
Guest
@petofi The country is populated by 60%*44% = 26.4% greedy cheaters, 60%*21%= 12.6% hate-filled people, 40% indifferent, resigned people. THat leaves 20% normal people. Do not forget. “Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” … Then he said, “May the… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Abraham’s haggling with the Lord:

A: 50; L: OK
A: 45; L: OK
A: 40; L: OK
A: 30; L: OK
A: 20; L: OK
A: 10; L: OK
A: OK

Unfortunately, the number was less than 10.

poldg
Guest

Is there any indication now to what extent the Western-living Hungarians who had to vote at the embassies voted differently from the inside-Hungary average? Are the more Jobbik or Left leaning?

poldg
Guest

tappanch :
Fidesz’s new election law gave 149,250,000 HUF of taxpayers’ money to this Együtt 2014 party.
http://vastagbor.blog.hu/2014/03/20/5_8_milliard_allami_tamogatast_kaptak_az_orszagos_listat_allito_partok

The sole reason of this opportunity was to enable (encourage) like-sounding names which will confuse voters. The plan worked fantastically.

tappanch
Guest

1.
At district level, the Fidesz 2/3 majority depended on 60 votes in election district BP15.

30 righteous people were missing.

2.
At party list level, it depends on 7,000 votes.

@poldg

There is no way of knowing how the 24,000 Hungarian guest workers voted.
Their votes were mixed up with those of the domestic nomadic people (átjelentkezők) and
with 106 urns of regular people.

JingoLingo
Guest
I think that change in the current political trends will only take place if the trends underlying these election outcomes will themselves change. The political trends are: a sizable, but not too significant attrition at Fidesz and a significant, robust growth at Jobbik and an overall stabilization of sorts at the internally-divided democratic opposition (united left and LMP). The underlying trends are subject to debate, but I propose broadly capitalism/globalism. Since I do not think that the underlying trends will abate or change direction, we can prepare for a tough competition between Fidesz and Jobbik. It will be a half-hearted competition tough, never directed at the other party overtly as they actively work together already all over Hungary in municipalities and they are like-minded, in private a fidesznik and jobbiknik regard each other as allies. (Just remember Antal Rogan’s recent story with the former party treasurer of Jobbik, who happens to be Rogan’s neighbor at the Pasha Park gated community). That said, it will be a competition for the minds of the people, which are now anyway open to these kinds of ideologies and people will gradually move away from the left. The focus of the efforts by Fidesz and… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

With all the grass roots support for Orban, with the fake parties, with the Trianon voters, why then only 45 %?? Is that not a bit embarrassing? I read here of support of the black Americans for Barack Obama of over 90 %, apparently also by voters deciding freely, but where except in one area of the Trianon voters (I have not yet heard of landslide support from the Slovakian Hungarians, for instance…), did OV make these 90 %? With the current election law this makes the 2/3s, accepted, but why selling this as a result that is due to the overwhelming support of Hungarians?

Bolgar
Guest

The Slovakian Hungarian cannot vote because Slovakia does not allow double-citzenship.

Kirsten
Guest
Tarnoki: “Your question can be translated into: How is it possible for Barcelona to win if they only score 4 goals? The last game they scored 7 so four goals is a very bad result for them. How can they possibly win with only four goals??? Well the other team only scored two goals this time, so the explanation is quite simple.” Unfortunate analogy. But, as Paul asked what we can do, we can for instance go through this example. First, accepting that rules of football could be a suitable analogy for politics. Then, probably, it would be natural that the rules of the game were accepted by all, they were known in advance too all teams, they would not be changed in the process – and by one of the teams only, and they would not include serious difficulties for the other team, such as having some of the players for Team 1 playing in the dresses of Team 2. And so forth. So football as an analogy can at least serve to clarify what it usually, and I believe also in Hungary, accepted as being “fair play”. The question then is: did Fidesz win by fair play? Second,… Read more »
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