The Újpest election: A large gain for the left

Some people might argue that the socialist win in the parliamentary election that had to be repeated in Budapest’s 11th electoral district was a foregone conclusion and is not even worth talking about. At least this is what Fidesz wants its supporters to believe. The new election in Újpest was occasioned by the death of Péter Kiss, an important and beloved politician within MSZP, on July 29 at the age of 55. Before the national election in April the party knew that Kiss had cancer and might not live to take his place in parliament, but by endorsing his candidacy they wanted to lift his spirits. Újpest is an old socialist stronghold where Kiss won time and again, and he won again this time although with a smaller margin than in the past.

Imre Horváth, the elderly gentleman as András Schiffer called him

Imre Horváth, the elderly gentleman, as András Schiffer called him

MSZP named a locally well-known man, Imre Horváth, a former officer in the border guard, to run for the vacant seat. During the campaign it was discovered that Horváth, like all border guard officers, took a half year course in Moscow under the aegis of the KGB. Naturally, the opposition was up in arms. As a result, the Demokratikus Koalíció and Együtt-PM withdrew their support. Yet it seems that this campaign against him made nary a dent. Horváth won big.

After receiving the final results, Fidesz announced that “nothing has changed.” After all, a socialist won last time and it was expected that the new socialist candidate would easily win the district. A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals a considerable loss of support for Fidesz and a large gain for the left.

First, let’s take a look at the figures from the April national election. Péter Kiss received 40.7% of the votes while Fidesz’s candidate got 35.2%. And here are the new figures. Horváth received 50.62% of the votes while his Fidesz opponent, Antal Hollósi, got only 30.67%. It seems that in the last six months Fidesz lost about 5% of its voters–or at least the party was unable to mobilize them. Jobbik and LMP also lost support. In April 12.7% of the voters chose Jobbik and LMP garnered 7.1% of the votes. These figures also shrank despite the fact that Jobbik’s candidate was a popular soccer player for the Újpest team. This time Jobbik received only 9.8% and LMP only 5.1% of the votes.

Horváth’s win was impressive. He won at every polling station with the exception of one, in which he and the Fidesz candidate got the same number of votes. That station in October, at the municipal election, was Fidesz territory. At one of the polling stations Horváth received twice as many votes as his opponent. Voting participation, as usual at by-elections, was low but not lower than average.

Speaking of Újpest, I read with some amusement András Schiffer’s assessment of the situation in this district. According to the chairman of LMP, the stakes in this particular election were high. The question was whether a new era is beginning in Hungarian politics; if so, the results may even influence the outcome of the 2018 election. Schiffer may have been right, but of course he was thinking about his own party’s candidate, who ended up with 5.1% of the votes.

There will be another election sometime at the beginning of next year in Veszprém, where Tibor Navracsics’s seat will be contested. Tibor Navracsics, earlier minister of justice and and then minister of foreign affairs and trade, became Hungary’s commissioner on Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission. Thus he had to resign his seat. If the left were to win that seat, Fidesz would lose its two-thirds majority. That’s a long shot. Navracsics won in April with 51.85% of the votes while his socialist opponent, Béla Pál, got only 24.99%.

Lately there have been two national polls, and both indicated a loss of support for Fidesz. Nézőpont Intézet, a firm close to Fidesz, showed a 3% loss between October 14 and November 3 for the ruling party and a considerable gain for Jobbik and LMP. Two days ago Ipsos came out with a new poll that indicated an even greater loss for Fidesz–a full 5%, which means 500,000 potential voters. Ipsos’s results showed practically no gain for the other parties. Those who would no longer vote for Fidesz moved over to the large camp (35%) of undecided voters. I suspect that Fidesz’s downward spiral will continue given the mood of the country.

It is hard to tell whether the results of the Újpest election indicate a real change in the political landscape or not, but one cannot ignore a 10% gain for a candidate who was not nationally known and who had never been in national politics.


  1. Flat tax systems in Europe:

    The only country that is NOT formerly Communist and has a flat tax is Andorra (10%).
    UK crown dependencies Guernsey and Jersey have 20%.

    The poorer the Eastern European country the lower its flat tax rate is:

    Artsakh 5%
    Montenegro 9%

    Abkhazia 10%
    Albania 10%
    Bosnia 10%
    Bulgaria 10%
    Macedonia 10%
    Transnistria 10%

    Belarus 12%
    South Ossetia 12%
    Serbia 12%

    Russia 13%

    Lithuania 15%
    Ukraine 15%

    Hungary 16%
    Romania 16%

    Poland 19%
    Georgia 20%
    Estonia 21%
    Latvia 25%

    Repealed flat tax systems in Europe:

    Czechia : 15% (2008-2013)
    Slovakia: 19% (2004-2013)
    Iceland: 22.75% (2007-2010)

    US state flat taxes:

    Colorado 4.63%
    Illinois 5%
    Utah 5%
    Massachusetts: 5.3%
    North Carolina 5.8%

    Flat tax rates that vary by the municipality, city or county:

    Indiana: 3.4 to 6.53%
    Michigan: 4.35% to 6.85%
    Pennsylvania: 3.07% to 6.99%

  2. Andras Gollner summarized the Hungarian situation eloquently for Huff Post on November 21:

    “‘Hungary Is Probably The Most Corrupt Country Right Now’ In The EU”

    9-minute interview:

  3. Oops. According to the the source above, the local Fidesz organization in Veszprem is still headed by EU commissioner Navracsics.

    Dear EU, do you have rules about “conflict of interest” or “impartiality”?

  4. Swing Tóni
    November 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm
    @buddy, tappanch
    […..]I think these fidesznik media gurus will soon similarly start to invent completely fake stories and shoot films with actors to show them as supporting evidence.

    WILL they? After the new Budget that was voted in by the 2/3, Fidesz’s new’s M1 and Duna Television played some interviews with people who are thrilled with the new budget. In fact one woman interviewed will start to save for her new house from all the money she will be saving (around 13EU / month). The only problem was that it turns out that the “oh so happy” woman is a journalist for the (wait for it) Fidesz in Pecs. Watch from 0:31
    Back in August we learned that Laszlo Kovacs interviewed by MTVA for a story, in real life called Miklos Samu and works as an intern for the national (Fidesz) television. 0:42
    The most famous manipulation is still the in from of the Opera footage when MTV managed to show no crowd when thousands of people demonstrated against Orban.
    MTV footage screen grab:
    MTI photo from the same event:

  5. Umm. getting back to the election results: What were the vote totals, as opposed to the percentages? If the most dedicated voters in this district were MSzP, then a low turnout would support that party. In general, dedicated voters are Fidesz in Hungary, and in the US they are GOP. So, the 2014 midterm elections in the US may not (depending on your perspective) represent a wave, since low turnout elections tend to support the GOP, while presidential elections have a higher turnouts, which favors the Dems.

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