election program

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.