Defeat for Fidesz, fresh hope for the opposition?

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.

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Die Presse (AT) /

Hungarians keeping mum on how they'll vote

After its unexpected victory in Hódmezővásárhely the Hungarian opposition has cause for fresh hope, asserts Die Presse:

“The election result, which none of the opinion research institutes had predicted, indicates that there is a strong 'hidden vote' in Hungary - in other words voters aren't revealing their preferences. Although Fidesz has a big lead in all the polls, the numerous corruption scandals within the party, the authoritarian tendencies of the government, and the round-the-clock, tax-financed smear campaign against migrants and refugees may have prompted many Hungarians to keep their opinions to themselves and support the candidate with the best chances of winning against Fidesz's candidate, regardless of their political affiliation.”

444.hu (HU) /

Rise in voter numbers means trouble for Fidesz

Hungary's governing party will now do all it can to lower voter turnout on April 8, journalist Péter Magyari writes on news website 444.hu:

“The driving force behind Fidesz's defeat in Hódmezővásárhely was the fact that as opposed to the mayoral elections in 2014, this time roughly 9,200 more voters went to the polls. ... And around 7,900 of the 9,200 new voters cast their ballots for the opposition candidate. ... The mood that prevailed in Hódmezővásárhely is the most dangerous scenario for Fidesz as regards the elections on April 8. The higher the voter turnout, the less chance the governing party has of winning. For that reason Fidesz will no doubt do all it can to limit the number of people who turn out for the elections.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

First cracks in Orbán's edifice of power

The Süddeutsche Zeitung believes the Fidesz defeat sends a double message:

“For the opposition, which is strengthened by unity. Because in Hódmezövásárhely all the powers from left to far right have gathered behind the victorious candidate. ... And for the government, which can no longer just distract the population from abuses of power with hate and fear campaigns against refugees, George Soros or the EU. Orbán is still securing his rule through various manipulations. ... But there are still enough alert powers in the nation that are eluding the Orbán system. This is a sign of hope for Hungary and for Europe too.”

Polityka (PL) /

Don't celebrate prematurely

For Polityka, by contrast, it is critical not to overrate the significance of the vote in Hódmezővásárhely:

“It's hard to believe that Orbán could lose the election in April. ... Fidesz will no doubt reflect on the causes of its defeat in Hódmezővásárhely, but this is obviously not the beginning of the end for the ruling conservatives. Even if a miracle were to occur and the opposition won the election, it's hard to imagine a 'government of national unity' emerging from a combination of extremely different parties. It would certainly lead to a new election ahead of time.”

Mandiner (HU) /

Clear evidence against election fraud

The by-election has proven wrong all those who love to accuse the government of election fraud, journalist Kristóf Trombitás writes on the opinion portal Mandiner:

“The opposition was able to win an election in a Fidesz stronghold, and by a substantial margin at that. ... To anyone who thought even for a moment that questionable practices could be at work in Hódmezővásárhely I would like to point out that with the parliamentary election looming, if the vote was going to be manipulated, it would surely be in a city as strategically important as this one. Clearly nothing of the sort occurred. Should any illustrious analysts attempt to bring up the topic of election fraud, I recommend that they be ridiculed.”