Medián: Support for László Botka

In the last few days two opinion polls have been published that focus on the qualities and popularity of László Botka, MSZP’s candidate for the premiership, and Ferenc Gyurcsány, chairman of the Demokratikus Koalíció. The juxtaposition of the two is somewhat arbitrary because Ferenc Gyurcsány is not a declared candidate while Botka is. The comparison was most likely prompted by László Botka’s steadfast opposition to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s active participation in the political process. Moreover, given the paucity of political talent on the left, Botka and Gyurcsány are the two who stand out in the crowd.

The first poll, conducted by Závecz Research, was published two days ago. In my opinion it was based on a disappointingly simplistic methodology. The pollsters asked 1,000 eligible voters who they find more capable of defeating Viktor Orbán–László Botka or Ferenc Gyurcsány–and concluded that the former is four times (44%) more likely to stand a chance against the strong man of Fidesz than the latter (11%). Forty-five percent of the sample had no idea who would do better.

In the second question Závecz Research wanted to know whether people sensed or didn’t sense a decrease in antipathy toward Gyurcsány. This question reminded me of those food experts of the Orbán government who wanted to assess the differences in quality of products sold to Hungary as opposed to, let’s say, to Austria by relying on tasters’ palates. Or of a relative of mine who decides on the popularity of different parties based on her encounters with acquaintances on the street. Well, 51% of the people surveyed thought that the animosity toward Gyurcsány hadn’t subsided whereas 30% thought it had. Needless to say, this was music to the ears of the anti-Gyurcsány factions.

Yesterday, only a day after the publication of the Závecz poll, Medián came out with a much more sophisticated and revealing poll. First of all, Medián recognized that a poll that samples the entire electorate will give skewed, misleading results about the popularity of opposition politicians. Medián therefore concentrated on those voters who “want a change of government,” i.e., those who would not vote for Fidesz. Moreover, Medián focused on Botka and touched on Gyurcsány’s role only tangentially.

According to Medián, 43% of voters would prefer change as opposed to 48% who would stick with the Fidesz government. This disappointing result may be due in large part to the disarray among the fractured opposition forces.

Only half of the anti-Fidesz group thought that Botka would be a competent prime minister, 21% thought he was unqualified, and 29% had no idea. Botka’s support was of course highest among MSZP voters (70%), but a majority of DK voters were also ready to support him. (The poll was taken at the end of January, so it is possible that the relative enthusiasm of DK voters for Botka has since waned as a result of his categorical rejection of Ferenc Gyurcsány.)

When it came to passing judgment on Gyurcsány, 37% percent of the anti-Fidesz forces thought that his participation in the political process would lower the likelihood of removing Orbán from power, 23% thought it wouldn’t, and 40% were undecided. Among MSZP voters, 30% were against Gyurcsány’s involvement while 29% had no objection to his presence in the political arena. Although Endre Hann in his article on the subject didn’t label the third category, I assume that 41% had no opinion.

According to Endre Hann’s summary of Medián’s findings, Botka is the most popular politician on the left.

Respondents were given the opportunity to describe Botka as a man and a politician in their own words and to judge him on a scale of 0 to 100. Most of the attributes were positive: clever (60%), sticking to his principles (59%), diligent (58%), courageous (59%), strong (55%), responsible (53%), and socially sensitive (52%). However, when it came to whether he would be able to solve the problems of the country he averaged only 44%. This result might not be a reflection on Botka’s perceived abilities but rather the Hungarian public’s assessment of the seriousness of their country’s situation at the moment.

Botka got a surprisingly substantial (36%) approval rating from the electorate at large. Thirty-four percent had a poor opinion of him while 30% had no opinion. When it came to Botka’s ability to govern, Fidesz voters gave him only 35 points out of 100 as opposed to voters of the democratic opposition who awarded him 64 points.

As for the current political situation, it is becoming increasingly evident that there will be no partnership among the opposition parties. Each party seems ready to campaign on its own even though most people in the anti-Fidesz camp are convinced that without cooperation Orbán’s government cannot be removed from power. These people are also convinced that the country will not be able to survive another four years of “illiberal democracy” Orbán style.

Yet there have always been a small number of political scientists who argue that the “party alliance” effort that failed spectacularly in 2014 shouldn’t be repeated. The chief spokesman for this position is Zoltán Ceglédi. At the beginning he didn’t convince me, but I’m coming to the conclusion that, given the unbridgeable differences between the parties both ideologically and in personal terms, perhaps it makes sense to start individual campaigns and see how successful these parties are in the next few months. The really tiny ones with support only in the capital and perhaps in some larger cities will most likely fall by the wayside, while the larger ones can compete for the votes of the undecided electorate. Let the voters see the differences among them and allow them to choose. The parties on the left have to agree about only one thing at the end: there can be only one challenger in each electoral district. And then we will see what happens. If they are incapable of doing that much, then they deserve to remain in opposition for another four years.

March 23, 2017
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Thanks Eva, your analysis and prognosis is very interesting. The task of the left wing opposition is Herculean. The need to prevent a Moscovite Party hanging on or being replaced by another of like commitment such as Jobbik is overwhelming.
Botka is a young man who is untainted by either the Putin connection or the sins of a Bolshevik past. He has the ability to run a city, small by European standards, but significant in Hungary. His reign is reputed to be untainted by corruption which is almost incredible in Hungary. He is a man of stature standing head and shoulders above OV, literally, and had an active life as a sportsman.
The leftist parties should let him have a clear run and give him what he wished, life without Orban and without Gyurcsany. If they give him the latter they may see the former sooner rather than later.


Kalnienk Vision

Translation: to break out of Orban’s (successful) reign of internal and external hatred, lying and vilification, buy into it, starting with his calumnies against Gyurcsany…

(I don’t know which is worse, the opposition’s petty, absurd, apoptotic bickering or their Stockholm Syndrome. — Each party seems to have delusions of grandeur, just like Liliputin’s Lesser Hungary in the EU and the world at large. Yet another Felcsuti meme that has invaded at all levels: fractal fragmentation…)

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Roderick Beck

I think what will remove Fidesz is the next economic crisis or else some spectacular embarrassment such as Orbán recorded bragging about how stupid are the Hungarian people. It will take a dramatic event to push the average Hungarian out of his/her passivity.


Re: the behavior of the ‘people’

Perhaps the observation made below will show the extent of the proposition within the country in the upcoming election:
‘Every decent man is ashamed of the government he is under’…HL Mencken

‘Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do’. Will Rogers

The electorate will have to dig into their memories of what has transpired within the country as they psychologically drive their vote ‘for’ a candidate or ‘against’ a candidate. In either case they must have the wherewithal to understand that they must live with the result if ‘their’ candidate does not win. And it is there where another battle looms for the country since ‘cooperation’ is not exactly found in the Magyar political lexicon.

And perhaps the word is already to be excised in future editions of dictionaries for lack of use? Another possible aspect of the road on to a specific ignorance in Szent Istvan’s country in our turbulent and changing modern age.


Good luck to Laszlo Botka! A couple of days ago one could see that the attacks on him by the Rogan/Habony propaganda mill had started in earnest. On Page 2 of the gaudy tits-and-bums handout “newspaper” Lokal, there was a headline saying that Botka “lies all the time” in very large letters indeed. Since Lokal exists as it does thanks to the Orban-Fidesz government one cannot be surprised. Indeed one might say that Mr. Botka is doing better than expected since he merits such libels already a year before the election… Or is it that the Rogan-Habony alternative fact “factory” wishes to leave no stone unturned…?


For OV the campaign of character assassination cannot start too soon.

Botka has a chance to do well. How well, remains to be seen. The parties of the left should follow his advice and do as he asks.

I just refuse to believe Median’s number that 48% want the government to continue and only 43% want a change – even if we allow for the possibility that this is because voters don’t see a viable option. It’s way too high a number and with all due respect to Median’s polling prowess this figure just doesn’t make any sense to people who talk to voters in the country. Mind you Fidesz will soon become much more popular than it is today because Orban will start spending a lot on votes (the budget – on paper – has ample room for tax cuts). And I mean a lot, probably an unprecedented amount. Yet, nobody who has any idea about what goes on in the country can seriously believe that practically half of the people (and a majority) wants Orban to continue. This isn’t a downtown Budapest polling of liberal intellectuals. People aren’t happy and outside Budapest entire regions are in a viscous downward spiral with no end in sight. This doesn’t mean voters cannot be irrational and vote for somebody who is patently bad for them, but I think such voters primarily want a change and not continuance. Fidesz probably… Read more »

Predictions and predictions, so much fun.

Remember 2002? Wasn’t OV expected and predicted to win then?


Pappp, you are right. The numbers are falsified, and people are lying.