Hungary votes

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Thousands of people demonstrated against freshly re-elected Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his conservative national government on Saturday in Budapest. They called among other things for changes to the electoral system and the protection of press freedom. The protests have elicited enthusiastic applause from one section of the press and harsh criticism from the other.

Europe's press is still preoccupied with the landslide victory of the right-wing national Fidesz party in Hungary. Were intellectuals simply too complacent to intervene? Is Europe's liberal left neglecting the important issues? And what is the outlook for Hungary's economy?

Hungarians will elect a new parliament on Sunday. The clear favourite in the elections is the national-conservative ruling party Fidesz, which polls predict will get around 50 percent of the vote. The opposition, however, is hoping it can win a victory by forging a cross-party alliance. Should Prime Minister Orbán be worried?

Hungary's opposition is looking for ways to beat the ruling party Fidesz in the parliamentary elections on April 8. Two left-wing parties have selected a joint candidate, and philosopher Ágnes Heller has even proposed that all the other parties form an electoral alliance against Fidesz. Hungary's commentators still aren't optimistic about the opposition's chances of winning.

In a development that took everyone by surprise an alliance of all the main opposition parties won a resounding victory in the by-election for mayor in the town of Hódmezővásárhely in southeast Hungary. The alliance was made up of parties ranging from the centre-left MSZP to the green party LMP and far-right Jobbik. Six weeks before the parliamentary elections on 8 April observers ask what can be learned from this small sensation.

In the run-up to Hungary's parliamentary elections it seems almost certain that the ruling party Fidesz will retain its majority. Current polls give Fidesz an approval rating of roughly 50 percent. Its closest rival the socialist MSZP party is barely reaching the double digits and is still trying to form an electoral alliance with the other opposition parties. Commentators have lost all confidence in the parties as they stand.