The election season is over in Hungary

ATV’s election program just ended. Figures are flying about in my head, and so far I have a very incomplete picture of the final results. I will need many hours to pour over the data before I dare say anything definite about the results. Here I can offer only a couple of observations.

votingI was struck by the particularly low turnout in Budapest. The socialists seem to be convinced that this low turnout was the result of no “mayoral candidate of the left.” I don’t think that was the main reason. The real problem was the total lack of cooperation among the democratic parties. The new electoral law dictates cooperation. Gábor Bruck, a former campaign strategist and a very smart man, was one of the three talking heads on ATV’s election program. He spoke at length about the low level of Hungarian political culture, which translates into the kind of political squabbling that has been going on for more than two years. In January 2012, when Fidesz’s approval rating was 17%, there was a real chance to mount an effective challenge to the Fidesz government. That opportunity was squandered because the leaders of the democratic parties were preoccupied with each other instead of their real political opponents.

Viktor Orbán himself in his victory speech claimed that his party’s victory is due to cooperation. And indeed, Fidesz-KDNP includes people from across the political spectrum. István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest, began his political career in SZDSZ. Fidesz convinced the right wing of MDF to join its ranks. The former smallholders also found a home in today’s governing party. So, I’m still very much in favor of a unified anti-Fidesz party.

In Budapest the number of districts won by the opposition was smaller than was hoped by DK, Együtt-PM, and MSZP. In several districts where the MSZP candidates were touted as sure winners, they lost. In some districts not by much while in at least one by a large margin. On the other hand, Lajos Bokros did surprisingly well. Certainly better than Csaba Horváth did four years ago with his 29%. In his speech Bokros indicated that he considers himself to be the man who will create the kind of unified party that Ferenc Gyurcsány has been talking about. I like Lajos Bokros, but I very much doubt that his ambitions will be realized. If there is a man who seems absolutely incapable of team work, it is Bokros. His speech was a disappointment: instead of talking about a unified party, he predicted that it will be his tiny party, Modern Magyarország Mozgalom (MoMa), that will take on Viktor Orbán’s regime. Not a promising beginning. As for the countryside, it will remain mostly orange.

Tomorrow I will take a look at the figures and will try to offer an analysis of the results.


  1. Bokros is the real loser. He talks about his insignificant and useless party being “the future” but in fact he suffered a total defeat. Because his party was so weak he did not even get elected to the Budapest Assembly.

    Even Antal Csardi the LMP candidate managed to get into the assembly. In real terms Bokros did worse than LMP and lost all that is possible to lose.

    Fidesz did better than anyone could have expected. They won a victory in Budapest which included many districts that were already lost by them twice earlier this year. They even won “red Csepel” one of the biggest strongholds of MSZP.

  2. @carrot. I would be a little more circumspect when passing judgment. You are wrong, Bokros as a joint candidate did very well. The problem is that judging from his speech he thinks that he received his votes as chairman of MoMa. Of course, he received the votes of MSZP, DK, Együtt-PM voters. He should have been a great deal more modest and thank the voters of these parties for their votes which he neglected to do.

  3. 2014 October/April Budapest elections (mayoral vs party list votes)

    Fidesz: 290675/354408= 82.0%
    MSzp+Egyutt+PM+DK+MLP: 226011/338429= 66.8%
    Jobbik: 42093/69444= 60.6%
    LMP: 33689/82150= 41.0%

  4. Sorry, this comment isn’t about the elections. But this BBC article about The Azeri leaders cracking down on the NGO’s is quite revealing for the future of Hungary.

    The Azeri rulers even use the same argument: “But those that receive funding from abroad use the money for “dubious purposes, to provoke disorder and instability”.

  5. @carrot

    The Hungarian electorate is certainly not bright, but they can read the writing on the wall:

    “Vote for us if your community wants to receive government monies”.

    This message has been stamped into the dim reality of Hungarian minds; and it should be no
    surprise if the voters act accordingly.

    It is the sad reality of Hungary that people are not outraged at such simpletonian manipulation.

    And the dimwit Hungarians see not as the chains are fixed firmly around them…

  6. Petofi is right again.
    Most current Hungarians are hopelessly confused and corrupted.
    Most of them are afraid to claim their individual freedom.
    Genetically prepared to be loyal to dictators-strongmen?

  7. My mother-in-law who always voted MSZP did not bother go to vote this time. She does not see the point, Fidesz will always make sure they win the elections; so why waste time on such farce? Sure the fact that the opposition is divided does not help but seriously, even if they were united, do you believe they could ever win a future election?

  8. It’s interesting to talk about the elections when there was practically no campaign on the left.

    Gegesy a long time mayor of district IX (who was out of politics for the last 4 years) lost by a few votes, but did he have the necessary gotv machinery as Fidesz did? Why would anybody expect that they can do without hard work, number crunching, up to date data bases, a network of activists?

    If there is no campaign, if there is no unity only petty infighting these are the results one might expect. There isn’t any miracle here. The left is lazy and apparently still lives in 1994.

    There is no pendulum which would swing back, this is a terrible metaphor. Fidesz is loved by the people and people forgive their corruption, just like for Erdogan. The left is not loved, at least grudgingly tolerated even by its own voters, but without genuine enthusiasm they will remain losers. (Jobbik is loved too by its own voters).

    People hate stupid politicians. Period.

    Finkelstein is pretty smart.

    And now the fülke revlution part 2 is about to begin, you will not recognize the old “post-communist” Hungary in a few years. Orban’s net worth is about to tripe–qudraple, but he just got the empowerment to do so.

  9. Budapest votes for Lord Mayor
    2014 [2010] {2006} (2002) in thousands

    Fidesz (Tarlos from 2006): 290 [322] {349} {267}
    Left: 213 [178] {362} (447)

  10. Randall mentioned Finkelstein. A good exercise in misinformation. Idea man. Is he still in Hungary?

    Did we hear who sponsored this regime, and who are its various allies?

    Turkey is becoming a major problem. It works with the Iranian leadership too closely.

    Throw in Russia, and mix in the ultra Christian Hungarians and Serbians.

    Who else do we need to get to the perfect mess?

  11. I just saw everybody’s favorite commissioner candidate, Mr. Navracsics on the M2 subway apparently going to work at 9am. He looked pretty tired. Fideszniks dare to mingle with the average joes, I haven’t seen any lefties on the metro for a long time.

    On a different note, I hear that although Speder is still with FHB, the real man behind the FHB group (which grew enormously lately) is now Simicska. I guess Speder realized that he won’t be able to turn this bank around, it’s just too much hassle, it’s not like OTP was in the 1990’s when Speder could restructure OTP successfully. FHB does not have the same franchise and the banking sector is now “over-regulated”.

  12. Dear KTP, what’s your take on Bokros’ over 36% result? You thought he can’t possibly go over 30%.

  13. @Elek: Finkelstein has been mentioned more than forty times in the comments of this blog, mostly by one-time aliases, and predominantly without making any sense except for the obvious antisemitic trap.

    Funny thing is, every time I read the name it reminds me of Sacha Finkelstein rue des Rosiers in Paris – the best ashkenazi delicatessen in the city! Btw, if anybody knows where I can get a pletzel with gehakte herring in Budapest… it would comfort me after my first (losing) vote on a Hungarian election. 🙂

  14. These 36% for Bokros in way cheer me up!

    With more preparation and a real show of unity the opposition might have won the mayorial election in Budapest – so all is not lost (I hope and believe).

    If you add the Liberal and LMP votes it gets even more interesting – the people in Budapest seem not so happy with Fidesz and its representative.

    So at least in Budapest the predictions for the left becoming irrelevant seem not true – but in the country?

  15. Marcel Dé:

    there’s nothing antisemitic about mentioning Finkelstein by name, he certainly doesn’t have any scruples about assisting anti-semitic, anti-gay governments so he’s apparently not very sensitive about these issues.

    I guess it’s a fascination, how simply he was able to put a fundamental truth that holds in Hungary so well.

    The left’s corruption is usually stupid, leftists never appear as masterminds, only as hapless idiots stealing money.

    Meanwhile even if Fideszniks appear as deeply corrupt people, their competition is a bunch of clowns, so his insight holds very well.

    Whatever Fideszniks did, Fidesz never had the image of being stupid, ever or even amateurish. This counts ultimately.

  16. “I assume you don’t need any help to figure out why MSZP is happy that DK and Együtt-PM did not do well.”

    I understand why they are happy in private. But this attack against DK was very public, it might signal that MSZP does not want to join the big unified party imagined and headed by Gyurcsany. There are other things that point in that direction. Did you see what Szanyi wrote to facebook about Gyurcsány’s “aknamunka” (- “backstabbing” or “undermining”. )

  17. Petofi made a good point about receiving government funding. Our village mayor is ‘Independent’ but as one of his representatives told me recently, even the independent mayors still need to be pally with Fidesz, in order to get grants and funding. Mafia State.

  18. If Szanyi and company think that the XIII district win was due to the fact that József Tóth refused to cooperate with anyone they are wrong. Tóth himself would have won even if he had been supported by the other parties.

  19. Finkelstein can be ok if he is only Jewish and homosexual.

    His negatives are, as follow:

    Ultrarightwing republican
    Smart canny campaign idea man
    Skilled in negative ads
    Loyal to an Orban, just for lots of money, as a guess.

    Is he still in Hungary?

  20. OT – another little known fact:

    It is a little known fact that Gandhi was inspired by the example of Hungary between 1849 and 1867, when, under the leadership of Ferenc Deák the country practiced a politics of passive resistance against the Habsburg Empire which the country was part of. In 1849 the Habsburgs managed to crush the Hungarian revolution (part of a series of nationalist revolutions sweeping Europe in 1848) and retribution followed: executions, jail terms, rstrong censroship, raising of taxes. Under the leadership of political thinker Ferenc Deák, Hungary went on a path of passive resistance: refused to pay taxes, blocked votes, etc.
    It was after a 20-year stalemate that this was finally put an end to: with the pact between the Empire and Hungary which effectively established the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Under the new rules, Hungary had her own Parliament, equality was declared between the various Christian sects, and Hungary became, apart from the personal union (the fact that Hungary’s ruler was the Habsburg Emperor) a sovereign country with its own parliament, ministeries and taxation. Amnesty was given to political prisoners, the strict censorship was loosened.
    This pact laid the foundations for one of the most glorious times in the country’s history, when, under relative peace Budapest grew itself to be near-equal to Vienna in science, arts and importance. Many historians argue that the relative peace that followed laid the foundations for the first shot at a European Union, with progressive rights for all minorities under Habsburg rule (even if a few decades later it was the grievances of the Bosnians that drove Gavrilo Princip to assassinate the Habsburg crown prince in 1914, effectively the casus belli that ignited Europe into the First World War.)

    Is there a hope that Hungary can restore its Deak Spirit one day, after a long hiatus.

  21. I really don’t know. It’s very confused.

    But the very underlying logic may be something like he, Orban feels that he is supported by God in his mission, so even if there’s some difficulty, or strange turn of events, it’s ok, it’s part of the game, in the end he, Orban, with Gob behind him, will prevail. God’s only testing his resolve with the difficulties (like Germans criticizing him), but he’s not a quitter. Kőszeg acted in good faith, acknowledges Orban, but unwittingly he, Kőszeg become a difficulty for the great cause, however this does not matter ultimately since Orban shall prevail anyway.

    At least this is what I feel here, but it’s a mess, I may be imagining this.

    The word derék sound very Orbanish to me (it’s a quite usual somewhat mannered word which he and many other similarly middle aged fideszniks use), I can well imagine that he really had a lot of say in the writing this or he actually wrote it.

  22. @trafo
    “Ez nemcsak hajlékony jellemre és rossz ízlésre vall, de személyiségzavarhoz is vezet.”

    You better believe him – authentic source..!

  23. @Elek

    Is there a hope that Hungary can restore its Deak Spirit one day, after a long hiatus.

    I don’t think so.
    You see, what you’re referring to is called the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, and basically that’s what it was.
    What Hungary would need is a Hungaro-Hungarian Compromise – it never gonna happen ever.
    When people with essentially same, but at least very similar ideological and moral principles can not unite, not even for one project, not even in the very last chance they’ve given, can you imagine compromise with the opposites?
    Because I can not.
    As I see it, here is nothing to hope for, it’s done for good.

    And I don’t even want to go into details, such as: then indeed was a resistance, then indeed the most brilliant minds worked together for a goal, the other side was just as civilised, and so on, which are a crying differences compared to present times.
    In twenty more years the whole area would be know to mankind as the European Intellectual Black Hole, formerly known as Hungary.

  24. In Ózd, Jobbik candidate Dávid Janiczák defeated incumbant Pál Fürjes (FIdesz-KDNP).Ózd in 2011 was named “Hungary’s shittiest city” by news portal Ózd has an apocalyptic, post-industrial landscape of shuttered factories, drab concrete housing blocks and shrinking populations mostly composed of joyless pensioners and jobless Roma.

    Eva wrote about this sad town before

    Even the Orban government thought cutting off the water to the Roma was over the top and ordered Mayor Furjes to restore full water supplies to Roma slums. Apparently the majority of voting Hungarians thought Fidesz was treating the Roma too softly and that the Jobbik are more up to the task of dealing with the Roma. Which is really amazing when you think about it because the Fidesz government of Ózd jailed many Roma for crimes like gathering firewood, or stealing bits of coal, etc.

  25. @trafo, Eva:

    The weirdest exchange of letters between Orban and Koszeg.

    I think trafo is right in suggesting that Orban thinks that he is fulfilling some kind of divine will… In his last sentence he suggests that God works based on a “the end sanctifies the means” principle…which is actually quite telling of how Orban works 🙂

    I think Orban seriously thinks that the EU/liberals just don’t understand his higher goals and he believes that through divine providence he will get his well-deserved recognition in the end.

    Seriously messed up.

  26. I am convinced that the root of the problem of the Hungarian psyche–its predilection for rabid Nationalism and mindless anti-semitism–is rooted in the ineradicable shame of having sent
    an extra 500,000 jews to a most horrible death in Auschwitz in 1944…

  27. @petofi: it’s not just that jews were killed but they were killed *because* they were Hungarian.

    They were not supposed to become Hungarians, yet they became Hungarians. This was what I think most people couldn’t forgive them. Not that they were the “other”, but that they were really us.

    For most people, the other should always remain the other.

  28. @calli

    You’ve lost me.

    I meant that the shame has come from delivering up 500,000 more jews than the Germans had
    asked for, and the Hungarians did this simply to rob them and to get rid of business competitors. All this in 1944, when Hungarians knew damn well that the trains were taking the jews to be gasse–men, women, and children.

    When you think of it in those terms, I don’t think you can ever get over it…hence the need
    to hide in Nationalism, and to reverse the hatred with anti-semitism. This ‘reversal’ is an odd
    behavior I’ve noticed, and specific to Hungarians: if you ever have a righteous reason to be
    angry, after some time, the Hungarian will turn the whole instance on its head and will vilify
    you as if the original fault had been yours. I’ve seen this several times…

  29. Calli has an interesting – and I guess quite valid point here.
    I think it was/is at least part of the reasons, beside all the others, with the looting and ‘cleansing’ the business- and cultural life and more, is true.

    One of the worst thing what could happen to an average (or garden-) Hungarian when he/she want to hate you and don’t really have a reason to do it.
    And the frustration will bring out the worst reactions possible, particularly when get encouraged to do whatever against ‘them’ who are really us.
    This is what you see on daily basis, developing once again.

    I would emphasise the ‘average” here, because the more sophisticated variety (as in our Viktorious ruling party) always find a way to do so, have no doubt.

  30. Calli’s reasoning is also relevant re the Roma:

    Hungary has done nothing (or at least not much …) to integrate them, find new jobs for them after the fall of “Communism”, educate them (or at least their children) – but that is of course the Romas’ fault, at least in the eyes of the regular Hungarians like our neighbours.

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