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While ruling party and far-right run anti-immigration campaigns, mainstream opposition groups are banking on anti-corruption platform.6 April 2018
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As Hungarians go to the ballot box this Sunday, polls show that Prime Minister Viktor Orban is likely to secure a fourth term in office, as his Fidesz party looks likely to easily win this weekend’s parliamentary elections.
According to the most recent research by Hungarian pollsters Republikon and Nezopont Intezet, the political alliance of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic KDNP is likely to win between 56 and 62 percent of seats, The Budapest Beacon reports. The Fidesz-KDNP alliance should maintain a majority, but polls say they will probably not gain a supermajority of two-thirds of the seats, which is necessary to make changes to the constitution.
The two pollsters are divided over the chances of the opposition. Currently the largest opposition party, the far-right Jobbik, is projected by Republikon to win only 29 seats, while Nezopont expects the nationalists to end up with between 36 and 42.
MSZP-Dialogue, the alliance of the Hungarian Socialist Party and the green liberal party Dialogue, should count on 19-20 seats according to Nezopont, but may hope for 33 seats according to Republikon.
In the run-up to the elections, the ruling party’s campaign has focussed primarily on the dangers of migration, the intrusiveness of the EU, and, as always, on Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros.
Orban is a staunch opponent of EU plans to distribute refugees among its member states. In his state of the union speech in February, he said “this danger to us comes from politicians in Brussels, Berlin, and Paris,” as cited by Lili Bayer in an article for Politico.
Bayer quoted Fidesz supporters who shared that feeling, with one person saying “this election will be decisive, in terms of the Brussels lobby and Hungarian national interest,” and another voicing the opinion that “if migrants come in, it won’t be Hungary anymore.”
The strategy of most of the otherwise divided opposition parties has been to point at the rampant corruption within the ranks of the last two Fidesz governments. They are hoping for success similar to independent candidate Peter Marky-Zay who, in February, won the mayoral election in Hodmezovasarhely with a strong anti-corruption message. The city had, up until that victory, been a Fidesz stronghold.
Jobbik leader Gabor Vona announced this week his party’s initial measures if it ends up in government: first, the introduction of an anti-immigration plan, and, second, strict punishment for corruption, The Budapest Beacon writes.
Although divided, the opposition this week took joint action in a bid to break Fidesz’s hegemony. The Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue (MSZP-P), Egyutt (Together), and the Democratic Coalition parties strategically withdrew candidates from several electoral districts to raise each other’s chances of winning those districts, The Budapest Beacon reported.
Meanwhile, Orban has made use of ample opportunities at his disposal to influence public opinion. The National Communication Office (NCO), run by Orban loyalist Antal Rogan, has made sure that media outlets receive generous advertisement revenues in exchange for “fanciful stories reflecting Orban’s agenda,” according to a separate article in Politico.
According to Reuters, Fidesz has also “tweaked” the elections in its favor, by amending election rules since 2010. Among other things, electoral district boundaries have been redrawn. Moreover, ethnic Hungarians have received the right to citizenship, which resulted in 378,000 extra people registered to vote in this year’s elections, a majority of which allegedly supports Fidesz.
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