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What I don't understand... I mean, I've read about the absolutely horrific massacre of the Hungarian constitution which Fidesz and Orban have presided over, which makes it absolutely perfectly clear that they are genuinely bad people, not just that they have different opinions on the issues, but that they don't accept the "over-ideology" of liberal democracy.

And in your article above you have provided some explanations for their popularity, that they took a stand against austerity, that the opposition is weak, and so on. But Fidesz was popular before austerity too, yes? And the opposition has, I suppose, not always been fragmented? And on top of this you have Jobbik, which is quite awfully popular, despite the fact that Fidesz should be able to absorb these kind of voters quite comfortably.

What I'm trying to say is that it feels to me like we still lack the X-factor, the answer to the question: why is Fidesz/Orban/Jobbik so massively popular in Hungary, really? Is two thirds of the population suffering from intense post-Trianon bitterness, or what?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Apr 7th, 2014 at 07:21:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you have provided some explanations for their popularity

That's a strange way to put it. I have provided some explanations of their election victory, which is a function of their current relative popularity (among others). You however seem to be talking about absolute popularity and over a longer timeframe, for which I would have to detail their opinion-polling history and several more factors explaining past changes (even if I restrict myself to past gains). I didn't say in the diary, but in absolute numbers, while Fidesz lost a sixth of its voters compared to 2010, it was much lower in the polls one year ago.

But Fidesz was popular before austerity too, yes?

I don't get this question. Which austerity do you mean? Their own, or the previous governments'? Or is this an ill-worded reference to their 'freedom fight against the IMF'? Either way, in what way is prior popularity relevant? Do you want to go back to how Fidesz became the dominant right-of-centre party?

And the opposition has, I suppose, not always been fragmented?

By which values of "always"? The opposition has been fragmented ever since 2010, in fact for some parties splintered while Fidesz was in opposition.

we still lack the X-factor

LOL. I just read (belatedly) the sub-thread you kicked off in the Huntington diary, and I hear an echo in you again looking for simple answers. There is no X factor, reality is complicated. (The problem is not using models but using too simple models.)

Fidesz/Orban/Jobbik so massively popular

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. Orbán himself has a 40-45% popularity (but then only the representative President of the Republic is above 50%). And Jobbik's popularity isn't linked to Fidesz's (they were negligible in the polls prior to summer 2009).

Is two thirds of the population suffering from intense post-Trianon bitterness, or what?

What two-thirds of the population suffer from is more like poverty. To use post-Trianon bitterness, you'd have to point at a constant of the political landscape over the past 25 years, but you are only looking at the last two elections.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Apr 8th, 2014 at 08:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
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
[ Parent ]
  • 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
[ Parent ]
My point is that for some reason extreme-right and rightwing-populist parties seem to be a lot stronger in Hungary than in other countrues, consistently and not just in this election. They previously did manage to win a fair election with massive support, enough to start changing the constitution.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 10:03:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
for some reason extreme-right and rightwing-populist parties seem to be a lot stronger in Hungary than in other countrues, consistently and not just in this election. They previously did manage to win a fair election with massive support
Fidesz seems plain vanilla EPP to me...

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 Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 10:04:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed it's worth to point out that Orbán was elected Vice-President of the EPP for three successive terms (holding the post 2002 to 2012), and the late Wilfried Martens made sure that Orbán got high-profile support in his pre-2010 campaigns (including failed between-election campaigns to bring down the then governments). And even after he angered Merkel & co by undermining central bank independence and angered EPP members of the Barroso cabined with a lot more, whenever Orbán visited the EP, the EPP MEPs refrained from criticism or defended him.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 02:26:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Orban is probably the most popular political leader in Europe.

Do you think this article makes any sense?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Apr 12th, 2014 at 09:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I wrote downthread, his popularity is between 40% and 45%, hardly the most popular in Europe...

Regarding the article, it makes some sense, but it glosses over too many details of the history of Orbán's march to power for my taste, it completely glosses over the economic populist angle (even though economic policy dominated both Fidesz's government activity and its election campaign), and the final paragraph on Trianon is IMHO off to la-la-land. In more detail on the last:

  • The Trianon borders (not to mention the Trianon borders minus modern Hungary) include more non-ethnic-Hungarians than ethnic Hungarians today, and the largest ethnic-Hungarian-majority area – in Transylvania – is disconnected from Hungary proper, making irredentist dreams completely unrealistic, and Orbán is fully aware of that.
  • Getting extra votes is a much lesser and much more cynical motive to give citizenship to ethic Hungarians in neighbouring countries. In fact for Orbán it's no problem at all if the new citizens move to Hungary proper (thereby further reducing any chance of border revision).
  • So far only a minority of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries requested citizenship, and even less voted. Part of the reason is that the relationship of their organisations and Fidesz is rather strained: long ago Fidesz tried to use them for domestic purposes, then attempted to topple them by funding rival organisations, which only achieved the splitting of the ethnic Hungarian vote (the Orbán-supported ones failed to beat the main ones and failed at list vote thresholds).
  • In spite of the nationalist rhetoric, Orbán built strategic relations with leaders of neighbouring countries. His good relationship with Romania's similarly populist President Traian Băsescu went as far as telling his Transylvanian supporters to vote for him. As for Slovakia, he recently agreed on a new pipeline with PM Robert Fico (whose populism is nationalist, too).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Apr 12th, 2014 at 03:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I checked some other leaders. Flood-crisis-hit David Cameron was at 49% two months ago; Merkel is at 72%. What is the approval rating of the Scandinavian leaders?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Apr 12th, 2014 at 04:20:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Manuel Valls is running at about 60%... (honeymoon). François Hollande about 18%...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 04:19:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did Valls get a bump? Because I found polls from a few months ago in which he crashed down from his onetime highs of 60–70% to Orbán's level at around 40%.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The IFOP poll for the Journal du Dimanche measures the approval rating of the current President and Prime Minister. This is the first measure of Valls's popularity in this role, and he rates 58%.

Unsurprisingly, it's on the left that he's least popular... Valls's ratings according to the political sympathies of the people polled :

PS : 79%
UDI (centrist) : 60%
UMP : 58%
FDG :  50%

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:27:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, I found the poll aggregating page Manuel Valls - Popularité des personnalités politiques - Sondages en France. It seems that rather than big swings, there are truly major differences between pollsters. All of these are early April polls, with figures showing positive vs. negative opinion (and the past high of positive opinion in parentheses):
  • CSA/Les Echos / Radio Classique: 41% : 47% (November 2013: 58%)
  • Sofres/Figaro Magazine: 46% : 41% (January 2014: 47%)
  • OpinionWay/Clai/Metronews/LCI: 47% : 43% (February 2013: 60%)
  • Ifop/PARIS MATCH: 58% : 37% (October 2012: 75%)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 10:26:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the "honeymoon".

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 Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:41:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still, 45% of the popular vote is a massive support.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 12:55:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we shifted back from Orbán to Fidesz, and a 61% turnout and 27% of all eligible voters isn't massive... we're running in circles. What exactly do you want to get at? Do you have some grand theory of Fidesz's victory?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 01:35:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, other than what you proposed here and what was in the article you linked about the supposed primacy of historical baggage? Let me hammer another nail into the coffin of that theory. If a 94-year-old national trauma is supposed to have such a strong influence, then surely the traumas of Russian or Russia-allied boots on Hungarian soil in 1849, 1919 and 1944–1990 should support an even stronger gut-level Russophobia, no? So why have this election's Fidesz voters accepted Orbán's 180-degree turn vs. Putin and a new €10 billion debt to Russia with a shrug?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 01:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a lot stronger in Hungary than in other countrues

For regional parallels, I pointed at Poland and Slovakia upthread. I note that in spite of losing both in 2007 and 2011, Kaczyński's PiS remained a major force in Poland (and currently leads the polls). Slovakia is a bit different in having its populist and ethno-nationalist parties on the left-of-centre spectrum, and their dominance of their side goes back to independence. Bulgaria and Romania also had right-populist parties taking over the role of main right-of-centre party and winning elections. As for the far right, although Jobbik holds a dark record for an EU member, PRM's 13% in the Romanian general election, 2004 was also high while Vladimir Zhirinovsky's 23% in the Russian legislative election, 1993 was worse.

consistently and not just in this election

As I said, you try to envision a long-term state from the last two elections only. Before 2010, the most an extreme-right party got was 5.5% in 1998, and they dropped as low as 2.2% in 2006. In contrast, the success of right-populist parties goes further back: they gained dominance on the right-of-centre spectrum in the aftermath of the 1995 austerity programme (where the main centre-right party hurt itself with its own austerity and autocratic impulses by the 1994 elections already), and Fidesz consolidated that vote by the time of its 2002 election loss.

enough to start changing the constitution

That's thnks to a non-proportional election system, which was all the difference in comparison to the Polish and Slovakian parallels, as pointed out upthread.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 12:47:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, I've read about the absolutely horrific massacre of the Hungarian constitution which Fidesz and Orban have presided over, which makes it absolutely perfectly clear that they are genuinely bad people, not just that they have different opinions on the issues, but that they don't accept the "over-ideology" of liberal democracy.
And that should make them unpopular with regular voters, precisely why?

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 09:21:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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