Viktor Orbán and Fidesz are in trouble: Record loss of popularity

A few weeks ago Tárki, one of the three or four reliable opinion polls, announced a serious slide in Fidesz’s popularity. HVG introduced the news by calling it an avalanche. The poll was taken between November 13 and 23 and showed that Fidesz-KDNP had lost 12% of its sympathizers within one month. The drop was so great that I’m sure Endre Sík, the lead researcher at Tárki, must have worried whether something went wrong with their methodology. Well, he can relax. Médián came out with its latest poll, and its figures show that no party has lost as much as fast since the change of regime in 1990.

Just to give an idea of the kinds of numbers we are talking about, in a single month Fidesz lost 900,000 voters. Two-thirds of eligible voters think that the country is heading in the wrong direction. For a party that is so proud of its two-thirds majority in parliament, achieved only a few months ago, that is a devastating statistic.

Among the voting-age population Médian, just like Tárki, found that before the attempted introduction of the internet tax and everything that followed Fidesz-KDNP had a comfortable lead: 38% of the electorate would have voted for the government party. That figure by the end of November when the poll was taken had shrunk to 26%. Although 5% of those who abandoned Fidesz are still undecided, others joined some of the opposition parties. There was a 4% rise for MSZP and 2% for Jobbik.

When it comes to those who claim they would definitely vote if elections were held next Sunday, Fidesz-KDNP’s drop of popularity is even more glaring. In October 57% of those asked said that they would definitely vote for Fidesz. A month later Médián measured only 34%.

Médián collected another interesting data point. Fidesz voters’ enthusiasm for voting has waned. The party’s inability to mobilize the troops was especially noticeable in the repeated election in Budapest’s 11th electoral district where the MSZP candidate won with a very large majority. According to Médián, today only 52% of Fidesz voters say they would vote come hell or high water. This figure is significantly lower than for Jobbik (64%), DK (63%), or MSZP (59%). Another telling sign is that 22% of those who voted for Fidesz in April would not vote for the government party today, as opposed to the October figure of 4%. In October only 48% of the respondents thought that the country was heading in the wrong direction. Today that figure is 68%. When it comes to satisfaction with the performance of the government, only 31% of the voters still approve of the government, 14% less than in October.

The popularity of Fidesz politicians also dropped precipitously. The great loser was the prime minister himself who lost 16 points, followed by his closest associates: János Lázár (14 points), Antal Rogán (13 points), and Lajos Kósa (13 points). Even János Áder lost 10 points. Endre Hann of Médián noted in an interview with György Bolgár that even Ferenc Gyurcsány after the introduction of the austerity program after the 2006 election lost only 8 points. At the same time opposition politicians all gained. Not much, but a few percentage points. Viktor Orbán with his 32 points is tied with Gergely Karácsony (Együtt) and Gábor Vona (Jobbik).

Popularity of politicians: October and November

Popularity of politicians: October and November

These findings correspond with anecdotal observations. People openly criticize the government and call Fidesz politicians all sorts of names.

Viktor Orbán yesterday visited Blikk, a tabloid that the prime minister uses for his own political purposes, and agreed to answer questions from readers. Twenty-five in all. This is the second time that he participated in something called Sztárchat. As opposed to last year, this time 95% of the questions were antagonistic. The very first was a whopper from “a former Fidesz voter” who wanted to know about “the useless scrap of paper that was actually full of concrete details,” or what the prime minister thinks of Antal Rogán “conducting business with an ordinary criminal.” Someone wanted to know how it is possible that “the whole country and half the world knows what is going on here, except you. What kind of dimension do you live in that you have no idea about the real world?” Zoltán and his family wondered how “the government has money to buy banks and build stadiums and move [your office] but there is no money for hungry children, pensioners, hospitals.” He was the second person who accused the prime minister “of taking our extra money away for working on Sundays.” Someone asked why Orbán “does not dare to stand in front of people and instead tells his story in an empty studio.” There was a question about whether Orbán’s daughter is studying some manual profession in Switzerland. Sándor wanted to know when Orbán is going to resign, and “ráadás” asked him “why he thinks that the Hungarian people are so stupid” that they believe all the humbug his government feeds them.

It was, in brief, not a friendly crowd. Among the questions I found only one or two that were not antagonistic and only one that supported his anti-American policy.

His drop in the polls and the brutally honest questions addressed to him are not his only woes. Zsolt Semjén, until now a most faithful ally, decided to show his independence. He announced that as far as he knows government officials visited Germany to talk to officials there about their church law which the Hungarians allegedly want to copy. As we know, the present arrangement concerning the churches was not accepted by the European Court of Human Rights and the Hungarian government is obliged to change it. Today Semjén threatened Orbán with the KDNP caucus’s refusal to support the law once it gets to the floor.

To tell you the truth, I have been suspecting for some time that Viktor Orbán’s change of heart concerning the Sunday closing of stores might have had something to do with pressure brought to bear on him by the Christian Democrats. Perhaps Orbán thought that he could appease the KDNP caucus by supporting their proposal to shut all the stores on Sundays. Obviously, he was wrong.

There’s trouble everywhere. I wonder how he can escape from the hole he dug for himself and his government with his shoddy governance, his irresponsible foreign policy, his taxing the population to death and not producing sustainable economic growth. Hungarians are getting more and more fed up and antagonistic. If Orbán continues down the same path he has been following in the last five years, the end might not be pretty.

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HiBoM
Guest

They aren’t really in trouble because there is no election for three years and they control things so tightly that they are effectively unopposed.

It is the fact that they appear to be running around like headless chickens, when they don’t need to be that is the really interesting story at the moment.

googly
Guest

This proves what I was just saying, that Hungarians will be very angry when they find out they’ve elected a closet fascist, since they mostly don’t approve of fascism (only 2% gain for Jobbik). Hopefully Orbán doesn’t just find a way to mollify or intimidate the population, again.

Paul
Guest
As HiBoM says, none of this really matters, as long as they can ‘arrange’ to win again in 4 years time (and again, and again). Their popularity has declined drastically before, but then it has also recovered pretty quickly too. What’s actually happening at the moment is just froth and fuss, and mostly only in Bp and a few other left-inclined urban areas, and it’s mainly limited to the disaffected youth (who seem to have very little idea of what it is they are complaining about, or what it is they want). And the ‘opposition’ are as disorganised and pathetic as they ever were. They no more look capable of fighting their way out of the proverbial wet paper bag now, than they did back in April – and I see no signs of that changing in the near – or even long-term – future. Basically, it doesn’t matter what Orbán does or doesn’t do, or says, or retracts, or whether it makes any sense or not. It doesn’t matter what his body language is like or what we may think about him or his temperament. He is under no threat from the Hungarian people, or what is left of… Read more »
Member
Article 21 (1) One-fifth of theMembers of the National Assembly may, together with the designation of a candidate for the office of Prime Minister, submit a written motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister. (2) If the National Assembly supports the motion of no-confidence, it here by expresses its lack of confidence in the Prime Minister and simultaneously elects the person proposed for the office of Prime Minister in the motion of no-confidence. For such decision of the National Assembly, the votes of more than half of the Members of the National Assembly shall be required. (3) The Prime Minister may put forward a confidence vote. The National Assembly expresses its lack of confidence in the Prime Minister if more than half of the Members of the National Assembly do not support the Prime Minister in the confidence vote proposed by the Prime Minister. (4) The Prime Minister may propose that the vote on a proposal submitted by the Government be simultaneously a confidence vote. The National Assembly expresses its lack of confidence in the Prime Minister if it does not support the proposal submitted by the Government. Minister’s mandate shall terminate: 35 (5) The National Assembly shall decide on… Read more »
Member

I would think there will be a very large power struggle will start out now in Fidesz. We already seen the signs for the last few months, but now everyone will start to fight for survival. I would not be surprised if Orban will shuffle his cabinet but I also think someone is just waiting to pull him down “Et tu, Brute?”

petofi
Guest

@ Some 1

Really, #1, you’ve got to stop drinking the bath water. “Large power struggle..”? Are you kidding? The mealy-mouthed, gutless, Hungarians who surround Orban want only the continuation of his power so that they can continue the unparralled level of government corruption. If Orban leaves the game is up: the lineup for the planes to Dubai, Cyprus, Moscow
will snake through the airport.

There is no beating Orban. He’s here to stay. Enjoy it.
Orban is the culmination of everything Hungarians have done in the past: reap as you sow.

Gardonista
Guest

@HiBoM – Fidesz will not fall through regular elections. I have more faith than most in the electoral process, but Fidesz has locked up the system.

Orban will fall eventually. I don’t know when, but the recent weeks give me some optimism.

Member

@petofi: Power struggle for new positions -> as Orban will shuffle his cabinet. THose who will loose in the game will in fact try to do something. I never said he will leave.

Simicska already put his middle finger up. Does not mean he wants to be the new Orban…

lala
Guest

Unless Orban starts to spend on the voters, he is in trouble.

Unfortunately there are always diminishing returns to the same method (e.g. utility rate cuts, pension increases).

People just hate his face, they’ve been seeing it for 25 years.

Gombos
Guest

Let’s not forget that this wouldn’t have happened without RTL Klub.

I remember the idiotic Tamas Deutsch laughing his asses off because i his opinion RTL’s new nightly news show style (more politics) resulted in less viewers.

Well, it didn’t, and it certainly resulted in people becoming much more open about criticizing/hating Fidesz. If RTL is allowed to do it, then were are allowed to criticize Orban too.

That’s how a dictatorship works, people when they no longer believe in the system, they don’t dare to speak up until it turns out they can speak up.

All foreign corporations who could’ve spoken up made their private “compromises” with Orban (e.g. content-wise German Telekom all but killed Hungary’s most popular origo.hu site when Lazar’s minions demanded it, since then the site became a modest supporter of Fidesz actually) hoping they won’t get ripped off. They were duly ripped off regardless and they actually deserve it because thereby they prolonged their own and of course our oppression by this crime syndicate.

Kudos to RTL.

andreas
Guest

Orban and his minions will soon be in a mad dash to warn the EU and the US that if he falls then the anti-semitic and Russia-backed Jobbik will form a government and surely neither the EU nor the NATO can’t desire that. So they must keep Orban politically alive and he will promise to be a good boy.

I just hope that this last ditch effort will fail and Orban can’t fool the West once more — as it was Orban himself who nurtured Jobbik and could have gotten it banned among others due to its Russian backing (interestingly the KGBéla case seems to have fizzled out).

But Orban always felt that Jobbik’s existence could be a bargaining chip with the West. He knew that at one point he was going to position himself as the “moderate” “fighting” against the “extremists”.

buddy
Guest

Ildikó Vida has launched her anti-defamation lawsuit against André Goodfriend. Prediction: a kangaroo court will try and convict Mr. Goodfriend in absentia.

HiBoM
Guest

I’m sorry but could someone explain to me how Orbán could “fall” before the next election? Short of some sort of internal coup (which in my view would come from Pintér rather than anyone inside Fidesz), there is no remote likelihood of him having to step down before the end of this parliamentary cycle (that is over three years away.)

There is some hope that Fidesz will become hugely unpopular but that is the fate of most governments as some stage or another. So we may see a crisis of Orbán’s ego but not a political one…

Barna
Guest

Ms. Vida initiated civil litigation alleging defamation seeking HUF 5m in damages (sérelemdij) and she initiated criminal proceedings with the prosecution also alleging defamation.

Barnabas Futo is back in the picture. This guy must know something (although it’s not the law).

I think lawyers are curious what will happen, obviously the complaints must immediately be thrown out, but these days nothing’s sure.

HiBoM
Guest

Eva, if there is a repeat of 1956 then I agree. But do you really think that there will be armed revolt and civil disobedience in Hungary because of Orbán’s corruption? I hugely doubt it

HiBoM
Guest

Well, until Fidesz MPs start voting against the government (for which they will be fined most of their salary), I am not holding my breath…

Istvan
Guest

Some1 Article 21 act subsection 3 does not require the Prime Minister to call a vote of confidence even if half the members of Parliament under subsection 2 support a motion of no confidence. The PM “may” call such a vote, he also may not call such a vote, if it was required that the PM call the vote the Basic Law would use the word “shall.”

This is clear from how the Basic Law consistently uses these two words in the offical translations I have seen and it is also clear from the what is called the rules of construction. So the PM does not have to constitutionally ever authorize a full vote of no confidence between election cycles.

Max
Guest

Meanwhile, Orbán is investing six million dollars in improving his relations with Berlin, so that subsequently he could ignore Washington.

What a diplomatic blindness! As if he could play the game of divide-and-rule betwwen Berlin and Washington..

http://vs.hu/kozelet/osszes/elismertek-habony-tanacsadoja-a-fidesznek-1211#!s0

o'magyar
Guest
Guest

Thanks again, o’magyar for that link to the report in that Swiss magazine!
Here’s a shorter direct link:
http://www.andreapante.com/files/die_gulasch-faschisten.pdf

I hadn’t heard about the father before, but found this in wiki;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikl%C3%B3s_Gimes
A “typical” Hungarian story!

buddy
Guest

@Barna Instead of paying 5 million Ft., maybe the US Embassy could strike a plea bargain where they offer Ms. Vida a gift certificate to a local English language school.

literal liberal
Guest

Eva S. Balogh: “It doesn’t have to be a repeat of 56. Just continuous unrest. Also internal revolts like János Bencsik (MEP) against the urine test, or a Fidesz mayor against the toll on M0. What can follow is a meltdown in the government. Chaos.”

I think Eva S. Balogh have to watch out before petofi tells her to “got to stop drinking the bath water. There is no beating Orban. He’s here to stay. Enjoy it.”

HiBoM
Guest

I’m not sure how valid comparisons with Öszöd are. I was in Hungary at the time and people were genuinely livid about it, including quite a lot of people who were more liberal in orientation. We can argue whether they were right to be so upset but there is no denying the abundant anger that was felt then. I am not convinced that there is anywhere near the same emotional repulsion at the moment.

rudi
Guest

Orban sooner or later will have to open the purse and or will have to create a war in some form.

The latter has been prepared re the EU and the US as the enemies, but he will need new enemies too.

There are no miracles, the range of viable options is limited.

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