The latest opinion polls and the popularity of leading Hungarian politicians

Medián, one of the most reliable polling firms in Hungary, decided to expand its monthly survey on party preferences. In March its questionnaire also included questions on people’s choices for the next prime minister of Hungary. But before we get to preferences for prime minister, let’s look at the March results in general. I will compare the results of Medián, Ipsos, Tárki, and Századvég.

I would like to emphasize that under the present circumstances I don’t give much credence to the results because of the large number of people who either don’t know for whom they will vote or refuse to answer the question. Moreover, a comparison of the results shows that they are all over the map. I will give a few figures for the population as a whole because, so far ahead of the actual election, these are the most reliable or, perhaps better put, the least unreliable data.

Medián found that Fidesz, which stood at 26% in February, moved up one percentage point to 27% while MSZP showed a 3% gain during the same period, to 15%. Jobbik is at 11% while Együtt 2014-PM is at 6%, down 2% in one month. DK and LMP are each supported by 2% of the population. From these results one would predict a large Fidesz lead, but one must keep in mind that 55% of the people would like see a change of government in 2014. And 80% of the people think that Hungary is heading in the wrong direction. So the situation is less rosy for Fidesz than one might think.  In Medián’s sample 37% claimed no party preference.

Ipsos’s figures for Fidesz and MSZP were similar to those of Medián (Fidesz 24% and MSZP 16%). Jobbik has the support of 8% and Együtt 2014 5%. DK has 1% and LMP 2%. According to Ipsos, Fidesz is doing extremely well. In one month they added about half a million new supporters (a 5% gain).

Tárki came up with the most startling results. In their sample Fidesz didn’t gain at all. In fact, the party lost a few thousand votes. But the real surprise was that, according to Tárki, MSZP’s share is only 9% in the population as a whole. In just one month the party lost 3% of its voters. The rest of the parties didn’t do well either: Jobbik stands at 8%, LMP at 1%. Együtt 2014 gained voters (from 5% to 6%).

And finally here are Századvég’s results. I ought to mention that Századvég is not only a pollster but also a Fidesz political and economic think tank. Fidesz, as in the other polls, leads with 24% while MSZP is at 14%. Both Jobbik and LMP lost in comparison to the February data (Jobbik 8%, LMP 2%). Együtt 2014 has a 6% share and DK has 1%.

Illuminati Owl / flickr

by Illuminati Owl / flickr

And now let’s turn to Medián’s analysis of voter attitudes toward the leading politicians, the ones who are most often mentioned as possible candidates for the premiership. Medián was especially curious about the chances of opposition leaders against Fidesz’s candidate, who surely will be Viktor Orbán.

Medián inquired about the viability of candidates in two different questions. The first listed the following potential candidates: Viktor Orbán, Gordon Bajnai, Attila Mesterházy, Vona Gábor, and Ferenc Gyurcsány. Viktor Orbán is being supported by practically all Fidesz voters, which translates into a support of 29% among Hungarian adults over the age of 18. He was followed by Gordon Bajnai with 16% and Mesterházy and Vona, each with 9%. Ferenc Gyurcsány received 4%. However, when Medián left out Jobbik from the opposition parties the results were entirely different. Viktor Orbán would receive only 1% from voters of the democratic opposition parties, Vona received no support, but 41% of these voters found Gordon Bajnai suitable and Mesterházy was supported by only 28%. Gyurcsány received 13%.

Medián also posed another question concerning candidates’ suitability for premiership. Here the choice was only between Orbán and Bajnai on the one hand, and Orbán and Mesterházy on the other. In both cases Viktor Orbán would win, but while he would win against Bajnai with a small margin (32:28), he would do much better against Mesterházy (34:23). These figures, I should repeat, apply to adults of voting age.

If we move on to those who claim that they will definitely cast their votes at the next election, the result is even more striking. Among these people Gordon Bajnai is the clear winner; he would win over Orbán by 26:19. On the other hand, if Mesterházy were the candidate for the post, 21% would vote for Orbán and only 15% for Mesterházy. So, if we were close to the election there is no question that the democratic opposition would fare much better with Gordon Bajnai as its joint candidate than with Attila Mesterházy. This is a finding MSZP should take seriously.

For the MSZP leadership there is another warning sign from the Medián poll. Among MSZP voters only every second one (47%) finds Mesterházy the most suitable candidate to be the next prime minister of Hungary while 26% would like to see Bajnai and 14% Gyurcsány at the top of the ticket. All in all, although support for Együtt 2014 is small in comparison to that of MSZP, Bajnai’s popularity is greater than Mesterházy’s.


  1. Eva,

    There was an hour-long interview with Bajnai on Inforadio today.
    He answered the questions pretty well – I was surprised that the
    station gave an hour to the opposition.

    You can listen to the whole interview at

    Click on netradio and
    select 8. Arena
    8.1 and 8.2

  2. Fidesz needs Jobbik and given the election system Jobbik voters will flock to Fidesz. Both parties anyway want the same policy-wise (Jobbik admittedly is even more radical and more provincial, but that’s all) and their voters are also close.

    So you better add up their figures.

    The problem is that Jobbik voters came significantly from MSZP in rural East-Hungary regions, upending the balance between left and right. Any they will not return anytime soon. And there isn’t any signifiacant right wing constituency the left can possibly flip. (As we know right wing voters are anyway much more loyal than left wing voters).

  3. No matter what the opinion polls show I have come to two inevitable conclusions.

    The first, until there is a Forint or Euro to be had (e.g. the Hungarian Central Bank) the so called virus that is Fidesz and Orban Viktor will not disappear until it is sucked dry and as many management positions and companies have managers that are Fidesz sympathizers.

    The second, the only way the opposition can win this so called election is if Orban Viktor and the Fidesz themselves mess up. The election has nothing to do with the opposition or voters. It has everything to do with OV and the Fidesz not messing up in any major way revealing any secret strategies.

    Watching what is unfolding in Hungary is something like out of Star Trek where the Borg tries to assimilate peoples minds, except that there is way more narcissism, border-line clinical psychopathy, paranoia, and other mental disorders in the mix.

    Thanks for a nice blog and so much material to read.

  4. Bajnai and co. have such an easy task.
    To ruin the shaky reputation of fidesz and jobbik, needs just a bit pr.
    Bajnai and co. are refraining from decisive pr.
    Who knows the reasons of their hesitant opposition pr?

  5. Fidesz just appointed two other spokespeople besides G. Selmeczi so that they could react and reply at any time of the day. Who replies to anything at Bajnai’s camp? Or MSZP for that matter.

    When Fidesz lost in 2002 the media was full every day about their shouts, screams, angry threats. They were omnipresent. And they wre tireless for 8 years, they kept election mode.

    Now the left is asleep. It is weird, I don’t know why? Lack of people and determination? Lack of strategy and efforts? Anyway, they are basket cases against Fidesz’s mighty machinery which is very far from being operating at full throttle.

    Now you have László Trócsányi (a sly and 150% Orbán loyalist former con. court member who left to became an ambassador in France, I think) procuring legal opinions about Hungary’s fourth constitutional amendment. I guess Oxford and Heidelberg profs will attest that it is lcompletely egal so what does some American prof at Princeton where there is no law school at all say now? After all it is a nice paid work, and lawyers are happy to argue for whatever you want. That is their job.

    If you think they will retreat you are mistaken, they got just more determined. Gearing up for the elections it helps their unity. Only a similary agressive force can win over them, so until you don’t see one (well, Jobbik is there and lo and behold they get a lot of gestures from Orbán) you ca be sure that they will remain in power.

  6. Klottg, Let me correct you. Although it is true that Kim Scheppele is currently the Laurance S/ Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values but she is also Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs. Moreover, before she joined the Princeton faculty in 2005 she was the John J. O’Brien Professor of Comparative Law at the University of Pennsylvania Schooll of Law.

  7. Everebody knows that Kim Scheppele is a fantastic scholar and perhaps the most knowledgable foreign scholar of the Hungarian constitution.

    But she will be targeted and belittled once these other “scholarly opinions” (prepared by European profs I am sure many will be from Oxford and Cambridge, since these profs are the ones who usually argue before the ICJ making absurd starements on behalf of Serbia not participating in the Bosnian genocide) will be ready for dissmination.

    Orbán and co. are all lawyers, they know how and what to argue and how to fight, how to present arguments, divide attention, use media and pr tactics. So I am pretty sure they will turn the tide. And once it becomes a she said – he said between haughty scholars, politically it’s over. Orbán will present these views as an intellectual debate on which there is no consensus, but, he will state, he will not waste time on these intellectual issues because he is there for the average people, for the real people, and so he will deal with what really matters: natural gas prices and electricity and pensions.

    Plus all the foreign blogs, media will be full with the Civil Army of Fidesz supporters referring to these purchased profs.

  8. Seeing those results, Gyurcsany should turn his back on politics and build houises like Jimmy Carter did at one point. Bajnai might have a hance.

  9. Joe Simon :
    Seeing those results, Gyurcsany should turn his back on politics and build houises like Jimmy Carter did at one point. Bajnai might have a hance.

    I see nothing wrong with Gyurcsany, although he was the subject of a hatchet job that will go into the political science manuals.
    I would prefer Bajnai on the basis of his achievements during his one year tenure. In my opinion, Bajnai would set the country on its feet inside of 4 years, that is, if he can, largely, deflect the interference of Mesterhazy and their den of thieves.

  10. Petofi: Gyurcsány “was the subject of a hatchet job that will go into the political science manuals.”

    Actually I was surprised by the 14% he would receive from the voters of the democratic opposition. After hearing that he is the most hated man in Hungary it was interesting to hear that Mesterházy has only twice as much support as he is.

  11. Right now…this is crucial. Without EU money Fidesz is deleted.

    Fidesz desperate discrediting campaigns (which did use to work in
    Hungary) are now backfiring like never before!

    Reding is leading “Europe’s campaigns against Hungary,” because they serve as a means of achieving her ambition of becoming president of the European
    Commission after Barroso,” argues Heti Válasz, which adds: “In seeking
    conflict with the conservative Hungarian government, she aims to
    secure the support of the left and the liberals in Europe.”
    ” Secondly, concerns are raised, this time on my government’s side, when a European commissioner, whose duty is, by treaty and the Commission’s own
    definition, to represent “the interests of Europe as a whole (as opposed to the interests of individual countries)” echoes the very words (“You don’t play around with the constitution”) of the Hungarian opposition, whose activists have illegally
    raided private property in their protest against the fourth amendment.

    ” the interests of Europe as a whole ???????? She is doing exactlyTHAT!

    “echoes the very words (“You don’t play around with the constitution”) of the Hungarian opposition,?????

    And then what?…they fight the same cause!
    Hungary to be a democratic nation once again!

    Viviane Reding, she is affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP) is
    apparently the one to be discredited deeply right now?

    Because she speaks the truth (no checks and balances left in
    Hungary any more) and Fidesz is deeply in trouble. (yes, the EU money)

    Character assassination is Fidesz core business…now it turns is
    the only trick they have.

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