Hungary's political culture before the elections

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.

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Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Party system rotting away

Both the political right and the left in Hungary have completely betrayed their fundamental values, journalist Róbert Puzsér writes in Magyar Nemzet:

“Thanks to its hard work the leftist elite, which in fact has been a neoliberal elite since its beginnings in 1989/90, has managed to permanently destroy the identity and moral foundations of Hungarian social democracy. Today's left isn't just soulless, it's rotten to the core. ... And on the political right Orbán and his consorts are imitating the left. While there's still a trace of sticky frosting on the surface, on the inside the right is festering. ... Orbán's system is based on sowing hatred and institutional corruption. As a result the conservative world is wasting away. The prime minister is a malignant ulcer on the body politic of the right.”

Heti Válasz (HU) /

Clash of highly charged emotions

The expectations voters had of Orbán seven years ago have been disappointed, sociologist Zoltán Balázs observes in Heti Válasz:

“When the Orbán government came to power in 2010 people briefly cherished the hope that the hate-filled polarisation of the country would come to an end and that Hungary's political culture would take the path of de-escalation and normalisation. ... This hope proved to be naive. Instead the Orbán government focussed on dominating the country and deepening the divides with unprecedented aggressiveness. ... As a result today the political mood is so negatively charged, so toxic, that in the elections it won't be so much party platforms, parties and party leaders that clash, but gigantic emotions.”