Hungary goes to the polls

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?

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Ukrayinska Pravda (UA) /

Low voter turnout good for Fidesz

Columnist Dmytro Tuchansky explains in Ukrayinska Pravda why the governing party Fidesz needs a low voter turnout:

“Its goal is to mobilise the highest number of their own voters - roughly 1.8 to 2.4 million people - while at the same time encouraging maximum apathy among other voters. Because a low turnout (or at least not more than 60 percent, as in the last elections) is the ideal scenario for the governing Fidesz party come April 8. It wants to avoid a repetition of the scenario that arose in the mayoral elections in Hódmezővásárhely, when the independent opposition candidate was able to win more votes than each of the opposition parties that supported him taken on their own.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Beat Orbán by joining forces against him

The vote in Hungary on Sunday will only be exciting on one condition, Upsala Nya Tidning writes:

“A mayoral election earlier this year has already shown that it's possible to beat the governing Fidesz party, provided the opposition members cooperate. In Hódmezővásárhely, a traditional Fidesz stronghold, the independent candidate was able to win when all the opposition parties backed him against the Fidesz candidate. Now many are hoping something similar will happen this Sunday. ... Parties in the centre and on the left could work together with the [far-right] Jobbik party and agree on a joint opposition candidate in each constituency. That may seem unlikely, but when the survival of democracy is at stake even the most fierce antagonists can perhaps join forces.”

Mandiner (HU) /

The opposition as a single package

Hungarians will face an unprecedented choice when they go to the polls on Sunday, with Orbán and Fidesz on the one side and the opposition as a whole on the other, journalist Imre Czeko comments on web platform Mandiner:

“The initial situation is simple: either we vote for the ruling party or for the opposition. Because it's absolutely unrealistic to expect any of the opposition parties we may happen to like and consider competent to be able to form a government on their own. The polling institutes can't be that mistaken in this respect. The fact is that the opposition is presenting itself to voters as a single package. So anyone who votes for an opposition party votes at the same time for all the other opposition parties. In this respect the situation ahead of the elections is unprecedented.”

Contributors (RO) /

The Hungarian diaspora will tip the scales

Hungarians living outside Hungary will tip the scales in the elections on Sunday, Mihaela Popa, a political scientist who works for the EU Commission, suspects in Contributors:

“More than 378,000 people who aren't registered as living in Hungary can vote in the elections on 8 April. In the 2014 elections this gave Fidesz an additional mandate and consequently a two-thirds majority in parliament. This time there are expectations that votes from abroad could even secure two mandates for the ruling party. The system is being heavily criticised by the opposition, also because the opposition parties don't have as high a profile abroad as Fidesz. Outside Hungary the parties of the Hungarian minority are even canvassing for Fidesz.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Hungary needs help from abroad

Hungarian society needs help from abroad to break free from the grip of the ruling party Fidesz, Der Standard contends:

“What the country needs is transnational exchange programmes, debate events, courses - for NGOs, journalists, academics, politicians, farmers, trade unionists - like those run by Soros. ... A strengthened civil society could take back control of the public discourse from Fidesz. Even if Orbán were to suffer a major defeat in the elections on Sunday the influence of the right-wing conservatives will remain. They have shared out all the key posts among themselves in recent years. A critical public is now needed.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Populism always runs its course

Hospodářské noviny has its doubts about whether Fidesz will win a sweeping victory:

“Do Hungarians still firmly support Orbán or are they getting tired of him? All brands of populism, including that with refugees, run out of steam at some point, especially when there are no more refugees lined up along the fence the prime minister had erected. In February Fidesz lost 16 percentage points in a local election near the border with Serbia and Romania. ... True, Orbán has other arguments in the pipeline - particularly macroeconomic ones. In the eight years since he took office public debt has decreased. The economy is growing and wages are rising. What Orbán is keeping quiet about the whole time however is that the growth is mainly a result of EU subsidies.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Identity-based right becoming mainstream

A growing rejection of the values of the EU is evident not just in Central European countries like Hungary, Le Monde notes:

“The trend of increasing nationalism, fed in part by populism and based on questions of identity, extends far beyond Central Europe. What was at first a marginal, Western European phenomenon is now coming back like a boomerang, strengthened by participation in Eastern European governments, as recent elections in Italy and Austria show. ... The identity-based right is becoming mainstream. It is sidelining the classical right - Christian democracy - and not just in Central Europe.”

Pravda (SK) /

Hysteria defined this election campaign

This was an election campaign of bombastic words and martial slogans, Pravda comments:

“Viktor Orbán didn't hesitate to ascribe a new and important role to the Hungarians: protecting Hungarian culture and identity. As everyone knows Hungary protected Western Europe from the threat posed by the Saracens from the East, he explained. Orbán combined this rhetoric with playing the 'Soros card' and the use of corresponding anti-Semitic slogans or rhetoric against Brussels. Amid all this irrational hysteria people forgot that Orbán himself asked Soros for financial help 30 years ago, and that his party is no stranger to the corrupt handling of European funds.”

24.hu (HU) /

Even the little ones are obedient party soldiers

The Orbán government has established a social system in which children are brought up to be obedient citizens, author Orsolya Karafiáth criticises on the online platform 24.hu:

“It undoubtedly has the intention of producing party soldiers who faithfully believe in the authorities. Because that's the kind of people it needs. Obedient supporters. It has been psychologically proven that those who grow up in a system where obedience to the authorities prevails become obedient subordinates. It's no coincidence that the Prussian education model is prevalent in Hungary. And it is also no coincidence that the image of the traditional family is being held up high - the father as the authoritative figure, the mother as the servant and the child as the obedient recipient of orders.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Defend Hungary against the invaders

Anyone who doesn't vote for Prime Minister Orbán is gambling with Hungary's future, the pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap warns:

“If the nationalist, patriotic forces continue their government activities after the election, the dynamic economic growth will continue and within four years we could even have full employment. This, however, will only be possible if we can defend the country we have inherited from our ancestors against the Islamist invasion that people call immigration. ... Consequently next Sunday we will not only elect a new parliament and a new government, but we will also determine the long-term fate of the Hungarian nation. Hungarians, think carefully about how you vote!”