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In Fidesz's case, I wouldn't call getting 27% of the total voting-age population "massively popular". Fidesz lost the 2002 and 2006 elections with more, hence the distinction between relative and absolute popularity.
To what extent has Fidesz been helped by gerrymandering or changes in electoral procedures?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 8th, 2014 at 09:25:19 AM EST
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  • The elimination of run-off votes actually hurt Fidesz in a direct way, because they could have hoped for some Jobbik votes in the ten districts now won by the Alliance candidate, while Alliance or Jobbik candidates finishing second would have little hope of gaining from each other. (After the second round in 2010, Fidesz swept in all but two of the 176 FPTP seats.)
  • More indirectly, the elimination of run-off votes helped Fidesz by forcing the various democratic opposition parties to form an alliance before the elections. In earlier elections, the first round served to measure the relative strengths of potential allies, so they could make ad-hoc agreements before the run-off vote. If so, voters had the chance to vote with more freedom in the first round and could decie between holding their nose or staying at home in the second (now I suspect Gyurcsány's inclusion alone led to more losses to non-voters than gains).
  • The most significant difference that helped Fidesz and trumped the no-run-off direct disadvantage all in itself is that the non-proportionality has been strengthened: FPTP seats are now 53% rather than 46% of all seats, and the above-proportional compensation mechanism used in the distribution of the rest of the seats is weaker.
  • Regarding gerrymandering: the number of single-member election districts has been reduced from 176 to 106, and new borders indeed made sure to either hem in or dilute potentially left-leaning areas.
  • The citizenship and thus voting right granted to ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries is another boon. These won't be counted all until Saturday, but those counted went 95% for Fidesz and reduced the aggregate opposition–Fidesz list vote difference by c. 1.5 percentage points, which should be worth one seat.

Your question is also relevant in the context of a regional comparison. The 2010 election in Hungary was preceded by two elections in the region that brought the collapse of one political side and the victory of populist and far-right parties in an election with extremely low turnout:
  • the 2005 parliamentary election in Poland, which brought us the Kaczyński twins, while the post-reformed-communist SLD collapsed to 11.3%;
  • the 2006 elections in Slovakia, which brought the first Fico government (though at a combined 42%, the loss for the parties of the losing right-wing government wasn't as catastrophic).

Unlike Fidesz in 2014, neither of these populist governments survived the next election. The most important difference was the proportional vote. In fact in 2010, the parties of Fico's first coalition lost with a combined vote almost identical to Fidesz's 44.5% now. Orbán & co also had the advantage of already having consolidated their political side in a single party (also a result of non-proportional voting). Comparing Jobbik to LPR in Poland and SNS in Slovakia, the key difference was that those destroyed themselves as part of the government coalitions, rather than collect angry voters in opposition.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Apr 8th, 2014 at 11:11:52 AM EST
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