Gordon Bajnai versus Attila Mesterházy: The latest opinion poll

It’s time to return to the current political situation, although admittedly the flood occupies center stage at the moment. The flood may be a terrible calamity for some and an expensive item in the national budget, but so far Viktor Orbán is the hands-down winner in this particular political game. Learning from the disaster of the late winter snowstorm when government performance was  abysmal, the prime minister made sure that all would go smoothly. Orbán considers the Danubian flood an opportunity to bolster his and his party’s popularity. While other prime ministers or presidents make brief appearances on the levees, assuring people of the government’s assistance, Viktor Orbán became the general manager of the operation, handing down orders and looking like the man who is actually running the show. Mind you, here and there the propaganda films made on the spot reveal that Orbán knows next to nothing about the waterways. One day perhaps I will share a couple of excerpts from his weighty conversations on the state of the levees and the rise of the water. They are pretty hilarious.

But let’s move on to non-crisis politics because there are some interesting developments. A couple of days ago a newspaperman asked Attila Mesterházy whether he would accept the nomination of his party to be the next prime minister of Hungary. He answered in the affirmative. Gordon Bajnai’s supporters were outraged and interpreted his answer as a sign that MSZP wants to go it alone at the next election. They took Mesterházy’s answer as a repudiation of his earlier insistence on common action by all the democratic parties and civic groups.

This reaction was somewhat hasty. Bajnai supporters seemed to have forgotten that Bajnai on March 2 announced that, if asked, he would say yes to running as a candidate to be the next prime minister of Hungary. Certainly both people are capable and at the moment the front runners for the job. In my opinion, the question is which candidate will be able to maximize the number of votes on the anti-Fidesz political side.

So, let’s see what the situation is at the moment. Here I will give some details from Medián’s latest public opinion poll that was released on June 5. Since we are getting closer to the national election people are becoming a bit more engaged in the political process. After two and a half years this was the first time that 50% of the eligible voters said they would definitely vote next year. At the same time the percentage of undecided voters decreased to 33%, another record after two and a half years. And while two or three years before an election the figures pertaining to active voters are pretty useless, as we get closer to the actual date of the election they become more reliable. Of those sampled who had an opinion, Fidesz garnered 45% of the votes to the democratic opposition’s 40%.  When asked their opinion on the performance of the Orbán government, only 31% responded in the affirmative; 56% would like to have a change of government.

public opinion polls blogs.worldbank.org

blogs.worldbank.org

As things stand at the moment, the opposition’s favorite is Gordon Bajnai. It is especially significant that non-MSZP voters and those who are otherwise undecided prefer Bajnai by a large margin.

A couple of days ago I expressed my dissatisfaction with Együtt 2014-PM’s strategy, and my opinion has not changed after seeing these figures. I still think that Gordon Bajnai’s mad scramble for the non-existent moderate conservatives who would be ready to vote for the anti-Fidesz forces is worse than a waste of time. Any kind of compromise with an autocratic regime that is rapidly marching toward a sophisticated post-communist dictatorship would most likely be repugnant to those who would like a regime change.

The historian Zoltán Ripp mentioned in one of his articles that from the very first moment of the second Orbán government he considered Orbán’s new political regime “counterrevolutionary.” The new prime minister was talking about a “revolution in the voting booths,” but according to Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794) we can talk about a revolution only if its goal is the widening of freedom. This is certainly not the case in today’s Hungary. Thus any kind of compromise with Fidesz is out of the question for a democrat, concludes Ripp.

Finally, Medián also measured the popularity of Hungarian politicians. The most popular, János Áder, got a whopping 46 points on a scale of 0-100. Viktor Orbán was second with 35 points, and then came Mesterházy with 33 points and Bajnai with 32 points. The “most hated politician” Ferenc Gyurcsány received 22 points. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when there is only a 24-point difference between the most liked and the most hated politician in the country. Perhaps once the anti-Fidesz forces get together and start campaigning against Fidesz and not against each other their reputations will improve somewhat. Let’s hope so. Without parties and politicians there is no parliamentary system and no democracy.

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23 comments

  1. Another great adage from the Marquis de Condorcet:

    “Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.”

  2. Let me be a smart alec. Orban did not lie when he talked about his revolution. His goal was and still is to widen his and Fidesz’s freedom of action.

    But his revolution is a counter-revolution for the majority of people in Hungary – their rights and freedom have been greatly reduced by Orban.

  3. As it might already be clear, we see things very differently, but I can’t understand something in your reasoning. We all know that no election can’t be won without people who voted for Fidesz in 2010. On the other hand you keep repeating that in your opinion reaching out for dissatisfied Fidesz voters is a mistake. So how does your math add up? Who do you want to win the election with? The traditional base of the left is by far insufficient. Fidesz-Jobbik has more than 50% and even though percentages doesn’t straight translate to mandates, we both know who benefits from that too. Again, how do you imagine winning an election without getting previously Fidesz voter’s support?

  4. Jano … the only hope is not to win over Fidesz voters, but rather some of the many, many members of the Apathy party.

  5. Jano, the reason for the misunderstanding that we are talking about two different groups of people. Those 1.5 million who always voted for Fidesz cannot be won over. They are not disappointed. Those are disappointed who because they were fed up with MSZP first time went over and voted for the right. These people are not really stadfast supporters of Fidesz. They don’t belong to the hardcore. But they are not moderate conservatives either. Most of them voted for MSZP or SZDSZ before.

    There are very true conservatives in Hungary and they may vote for Bajnai this time but their numbers are far too small to make a difference. He has to attract the former voters on the liberal-left side. And talking about Trianon to these people is a useless strategy.

  6. Swing voters are the key for a victory of the opposition.
    They can vote for the MSZP.
    Less for Gyurcsany, lesz for Bajnai without the MSZP.
    Bajnai should join the MSZP finally. He should replace Mesterhazy.

    The elections should be approached with lots of serious public place events in the summer.
    Find ways to get close to the people of the cities and villages.
    Talk about human dignity, European culture, civil society, social safety net. Freedom.

  7. Áder’s points are a big surprise, but then again “he is one of us”. Great choice: a 100%, complete Orbán loyalist, although I am sure he sells himself as a moderate to foreign observers, but people don’t dislike him. And he is great for the rural voters: going fishing, looking serious and manly with his mustouche. Also good fro the more sphisticated ones, does not enter into clear conflicts, which is good for long term political survival (popularity).

  8. Tappanch is right:

    Orbán was indeed talkig about revolution.

    People underestimated him, but he has been planning his revolution (coup d eteat) ever since he was at Bibo College at the age of 18.

    He never truly accepted the rules of the game (whether they were the constitution, moral rules or simple rules of behaviour), although he communicated as though these were not an issue.

    I am pretty livid the so many foreign, Western observers ate his (and Martonyis’s and Szájer’s) sh**t for so long when he was in opposition. But then again, how could burocrats from Brussels or Washington understand the situation. Orbán knew well thew will never understand it and now he is loughing like crazy.

    But all the while he was intent on grabbing complete power.

    He and his people like Kövér, Áder, Szájer are true revolutionaries, only, I agree, they are really counter-revolutionaries.

    Anyway, until the left accepts the game as determined by Fidesz, they will forever lose.

  9. Supplemental government support in millions of HUF

    Orban’s soccer academy in his home village 500

    Churches:

    Buddhist cca 180
    Catholic College cca 408
    Calvinist University cca 509
    Eger Catholic College cca 99
    Chabad (EMIH) cca 192
    Esztergom Catholic College 44
    Lutheran University cca 156
    Private College “Dennis Gabor” cca 271

    Lots of other Catholic and Calvinist colleges.
    Catholic Church directly.
    Altogether Catholic Church received more than 12,000 million HUF

    http://www.kormany.hu/download/e/d9/e0000/T%C3%A1mogat%C3%A1sok%2020130531%20emmi.xlsx#!DocumentBrowse

  10. Marcel: It’s a typical phenomenon that a government is most unpopular at midterm and as it gets closer to elections, its popularity (e.g. of Orbán) will grow.

    Orbán is also popular, he is the Puting now on the levies commanding the works and looking comptenet and powerful for the masses. I wait for the pic in which he rides a horse half naked like his mentor Putin. The control of media and the image/PR ideas come straight from Putin/Surkov, I would not be surprised the least if they emplyoed Russian media experts.

  11. His media expert is the funny arthur finkelstein.
    Unfortunate chapter to hungarian and jewish aspect.
    To energize the public, the MSZP has to organize public events.
    Philosophers and historians must give stimulating quick lectures to wake up the good conscientiousness in the people.

  12. 2013 wrote: “His media expert is the funny arthur finkelstein.”

    That’s the Finkelstein who recently married his male partner, who has advised right-wing politicians including Nixon, Jesse Helms, and Netenyahu and who famously predicted a Romney four point win in 2012 (Obama won by two.)

  13. Gon :
    Marcel: It’s a typical phenomenon that a government is most unpopular at midterm and as it gets closer to elections, its popularity (e.g. of Orbán) will grow.

    A rising trend so early is only typical before a re-election.

    I couldn’t find the breakup for those studies (age & revenue groups, party affiliation etc.). Does anybody have an idea ?

  14. “When you allow people to choose between the corrupt and the stupid, they will go for the corrupt.” ,

    Arthur J. Finkelstein 2003

  15. At 4 PM local time, we are at 8.64 m, just 3 cm below the 1876 flood record, but we are still far from the fabled 1838 flood. Downtown Budapest is not in danger.

    Thanks to the engineers of the 1870s and 1880s.

  16. Eva: Ok, I understand your point now. I still don’t agree with it though, but I see what you have in mind.

  17. Eva S. Balogh :
    But they are not moderate conservatives either. Most of them voted for MSZP or SZDSZ before.

    You are right. There is no group you could call “officially” moderate conservatives. But these moderate conservatives, if existed, would be the way out of the unfortunate dichotomy between the liberal left (MSZP) and the so called christian conservative right (Fidesz) that is the curse of the Hungarian politics today.

    Ok, if they don’t exist, well, let’s create them. Normal people should be called moderate conservatives. The anti-Orban media should start pushing the term. Public figures should start calling themselves moderate conservatives. Let’s make it fashionable. “Oh, you care about Trianon. I see. But you are not a moron like that guy. Dude. I think you are moderate conservative!”.

    I think the key difference is that they don’t want to force their views down your throat. If they (a party) get elected of course they would push policies along their beliefs but will not dig themselves in for decades like the Orbanites.

    Today in Hungary both sides, left and right, is hijacked by incompetent and corrupt people. That’s why the large number of undecided. They find it embarrassing to belong to either side.

    The trouble is of course that neither of the two poles would like moderate conservatives. Especially the MSZP would be in big shit if the moderate conservative movement would catch on. The big behemoths, the Fidesz and the MSZP, they both want to conserve this two party Mexican standoff. They are playing chicken with each other. They want you to hate more the other side so you will come to them. They don’t want moderate, common sense middle-of-road forces in Hungary.

  18. Mutt: You summed it up really well. We also shouldn’t dismiss the fact that Bajnai might actually care about Trianon in a healthy way.

  19. Cwerki :
    Tappanch is right:
    Orbán was indeed talkig about revolution.
    People underestimated him, but he has been planning his revolution (coup d eteat) ever since he was at Bibo College at the age of 18.
    He never truly accepted the rules of the game (whether they were the constitution, moral rules or simple rules of behaviour), although he communicated as though these were not an issue.
    I am pretty livid the so many foreign, Western observers ate his (and Martonyis’s and Szájer’s) sh**t for so long when he was in opposition. But then again, how could burocrats from Brussels or Washington understand the situation. Orbán knew well thew will never understand it and now he is loughing like crazy.
    But all the while he was intent on grabbing complete power.
    He and his people like Kövér, Áder, Szájer are true revolutionaries, only, I agree, they are really counter-revolutionaries.
    Anyway, until the left accepts the game as determined by Fidesz, they will forever lose.

    This is the whole essence of the “Orbanism”!

    There is no ideology, there is no politics, there’s only the ultimate and utterly selfish interest of a peasant boy reaching fulfilment, always the tune, what most people want to hear.
    Once liberal democrat ant fierce ateist and anticlerical, next conservative, kissing the ring of the catholic pope, then nationalist flirting with nazis – everything, what serves his agenda at the moment.

    There is no interest of Hungary, there is only interest of Orbán, people!

    This is, what I tried to call attention countless times, this is nothing else, but an extremely well performed con act, with the only goal: being the ultimate omnipotent ruler of Hungary – and it’s working.

    Would be interesting to see, when the blindfold finally will come off…

  20. spectator :

    Cwerki :
    This is the whole essence of the “Orbanism”!
    There is no ideology, there is no politics, there’s only the ultimate and utterly selfish interest of a peasant boy reaching fulfilment, always the tune, what most people want to hear.
    Once liberal democrat ant fierce ateist and anticlerical, next conservative, kissing the ring of the catholic pope, then nationalist flirting with nazis – everything, what serves his agenda at the moment.
    There is no interest of Hungary, there is only interest of Orbán, people!
    This is, what I tried to call attention countless times, this is nothing else, but an extremely well performed con act, with the only goal: being the ultimate omnipotent ruler of Hungary – and it’s working.
    Would be interesting to see, when the blindfold finally will come off…

    Medián published a long analysis (or rather, what Hungarians think an analysis is) of Fidesz’s political philosophy in Élet és irodalom. In it they argue that it’s not that they are undemocratic, it’s just that they simply have a different view of democracy.

    IMO “once the blindfold comes off,” Hungary will see some violent times.

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