Does Hungary's opposition stand a chance?

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.

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Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Voters are not robots

The plan by opposition campaign strategists to have Fidesz opponents vote for the most promising candidate regardless of whether they are on the left or the right is unrealistic, Magyar Nemzet believes:

“It's completely impossible. No one can seriously believe that for example in Budapest's 12th district leftist voters will march to the polling stations in long lines to vote for Jobbik politician Márton Gyöngyösi. Or that right-wing Jobbik supporters in the neighbouring district of Újbuda will cast their ballots for the socialist leader Gyula Molnár. Such contrived ideas have all too often been thwarted by the reality of daily life. Voters aren't robots. Even today voting remains a question of conscience and sentiment.”

Magyar Narancs (HU) /

Liberals should never vote for Jobbik

Even if in certain constituencies the Jobbik candidates have the best prospects on the opposition's side, for liberal and democratically minded voters electing the representative of a former far-right party would be a betrayal of their values, author Péter Nádas warns in Magyar Narancs:

“There is a line that no liberal worth his salt should cross. The red line lies where humanism and the Enlightenment drew it on the basis of Greek-Latin-Jewish-Christian tradition. ... We should not just think one step ahead but at least three. An election alliance can only be successful if it produces a coalition capable of governing the country. In my opinion the opposition forces will not be able to govern together. They lack any kind of cohesion.”

hvg (HU) /

The dissatisfied majority remains silent

Orbán's political rivals will be defeated in the elections, journalist Árpád Tóta W. writes in the weekly newspaper hvg:

“Hungary's political diversity can still be observed here and there. The odd ex-minister still pops up every now and then to present a roadmap for change, but they're invariably laughed at. A last desperate cry of despair can still be heard from this or that opposition politician or citizen before they collapse with resignation and fatigue. We do still have objective news, at least on the Internet. But that, too, will soon disappear. ... Orbán's camp is in the minority but it's well-organised, disciplined, and extremely loyal. But if the four million deprived and dissatisfied Hungarians in the country finally took a stand, it wouldn't have a chance.”

Mandiner (HU) /

Caught up in blind Orbánophobia

The opposition must stop closing its eyes to reality, journalist Kristóf Trombitás writes on the opinion website Mandiner:

“In their blind Orbánophobia the opposition parties have completely lost sight of the fact that many Hungarians vote for ruling party Fidesz because their lives are better than they were before. ... The opposition appears to be in a kind of artificial echo chamber that prevents any form of rational thinking. ... What's more, it constantly casts the roughly two million Orbán voters as blinded idiots and collaborators of an authoritarian system. The opposition parties should finally admit that the Orbán government has made huge advances, above all economically. If they want to win the election, they will have to concede that.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

A pitiful lot

Neither Karácsony as a candidate nor the opposition as a whole are convincing, the government-critical daily Magyar Nemzet writes scathingly:

“People are pinning their hopes on this Karácsony of all people, who a few years ago allegedly said he hated the socialists even more than Fidesz, and found the idea of having to work with Ferenc Gyurcsány highly distasteful. ... The left should finally realise that the large majority of voters won't vote for them. They have tried in vain in recent months to suggest that Fidesz can be defeated, but the voters don't believe them. Because on the one hand they hold talks about alliances but on the other they attack each other. On top of it all in their confusion they wouldn't even know what to do with the country if they were put in charge of it.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Opposition would let refugees into the country

Hungary would face a refugee crisis if the opposition came to power, the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap warns:

“The biggest danger for the government camp is that it's too sure of its grip on power and has become lazy as a result. Now, however, vigilance is called for. Much is at stake in the coming elections. They will decide whether or not Hungary is to become a collecting point for illegal immigrants. Let's not kid ourselves: the opposition would not only accept the refugee quota, it would also take down the border fences and unleash the same refugee chaos that now has Western Europe in its grips.”

hvg (HU) /

Teaming up with Jobbik wrong on principle

Even if Jobbik has changed, cooperating with it is not an option for the centrist parties, philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamas writes in hvg:

“In my view it would be bizarre if the centre-left and centre-right parties were to form an alliance with Jobbik. ... This would effectively mean that they are giving up their principles, and to an unacceptable extent. Whether Jobbik's transformation from a right-wing extremist and paramilitary party to a (right-wing and more or less constitutionally conform) popular party is sincere and authentic, I cannot judge. At any rate Jobbik in its current form is less radical than the ruling Orbán regime. All the same I find it hard to imagine that a Jobbik-led government would be better than the Orbán system.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Anti-Orbán alliance of hate

All that unites the opposition is unbridled hatred of the governing party Fidesz and its voters, the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap rails:

“Hungary can expect precious little from this opposition which has neither principles nor constructive ideas about the future of our fatherland. It will stop at nothing to get into power and get its hands on the treasury's coffers. ... To say nothing of its boundless Orbánophobia. All its political actions are rooted in an unrestrained hatred for the government camp - including its loyal voters. From that perspective it makes no difference whether the left-liberal opposition and the Jobbik party form a cross-party alliance. Nothing good has ever come of hate-based policies.”