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Elections in Orbánistan

by DoDo Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 03:06:52 PM EST

Today (on 6 April), Hungary is holding the first parliamentary elections since PM Viktor Orbán's right-populist Fidesz took over all levers of power, replaced the Constitution and re-wrote all key laws using its two-thirds parliamentary majority. The modified election system is still an uncompensated mixed unicameral system (with people voting for both single-member election districts and party lists), but the single-member part is now without a second round of run-off votes.

There is nothing positive to report. Fidesz is likely to sweep almost all single-member districts and get nearly half of the list votes, the only question is whether they again gain a two-thirds parliamentary majority (which would allow them to continue their rule without any real checks & balances and implement the part of their reactionary legislative agenda they couldn't in the past four years). An alliance of (mostly unattractive post-reformed-communist or neoliberal) democratic opposition parties is predicted to finish barely ahead of far-right Jobbik, which is to boost its vote above 20%.

Update [2014-4-7 4:1:47 by DoDo]: At 99% counted, turnout is an abysmal 61%, Fidesz barely defended its two-thirds parliamentary majority even though it dropped to 44.5%, the opposition alliance got 26%, the fascists 20.5%, and the LMP (greens) also made it at 5.2%.


Some words on how we got here.

Orbán's government was the only one of an EU member state openly defying the austerity dictate (in words at least). What's more, by drawing out and letting flounder negotiations with the IMF, they averted both a bailout and an all-out financial market attack, and the economy came out of recession last year. But, while the government portrayed itself as a freedom fighter against the IMF, they implemented a lot of IMF policies like cutting social benefits and demonising its recipients, punishing the unemployed, cutting back labour and union rights, taxing the poor more and the rich less with a flat tax, and automating austerity by including a balanced budget requirement in the new Constitution. However, before the elections, the government stopped adding new pain, throttled the austerity-in-all-but-name, and focused its efforts on forcing utilities to reduce retail energy prices (a highly demagogic move which was used in the campaign to woo poor people although it benefited large consumers more, and it replaced something sensible like a home insulation program and is bound to haunt us in the future due to reduced investment and post-election price increases).

Fidesz also made sure to rig the game in every possible way: changed election system, gerrymandered single-member election districts, compromising the earlier independence of the election committee and courts, get-out-the-vote methods, conquest of all public and most private media, campaign spending limitations which they themselves circumvented with the help of government and oligarch-sponsored campaigns, no campaign silence, and the addition of hundreds of thousands of likely Fidesz voters by giving citizenship to ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries.

Still, none of this would matter would the opposition not be in a desolate state. In the past four years, most democratic opposition against the Orbán government's autocratic power capture and anti-social policies was carried by civic movements, which tried to get the democratic opposition parties on the same table. However, the leaders of those parties spent the past year bickering about positions, and too many discredited people (above all former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány) couldn't get themselves to make way for newer faces. An oligarch-sponsored pro-Fidesz negative campaign had to do little more than line up four of the opposition leaders alongside a clown and write "They don't deserve another chance" below it. Worse, although some of the opposition parties (including the strongest, the Socialists) made a half-turn away from the neo-liberal reformism that sank the previous government, many in the coalition and much of the supportive media continue to be IMF and The Economist true-believers. Even worse, I think the bigger problem is the voters not the leaders: too many take a passive consumer approach to politics ("'the politicians' shall please present something I like"), there was little enthusiasm for grass-roots activism (even if it's just turning out for a rally) and little understanding of the principle of rainbow coalitions ("I'm not gonna stand alongside those people").

The only positive surprise of the 2010 elections was the entry into parliament of a green party, LMP, but they were too urban and intellectual to connect to the wider population, and the differences between their conservative and progressive wings were too great to survive the coalition-forming pressure: the progressives left and joined the democratic opposition coalition while the remaining LMP kept to the conservative wing's policy of total independence and look set to fail at the 5% list vote margin.

Thus, the voters most incensed by Fidesz's anti-social policies were drawn more to the far-right Jobbik than nominally or truly left-of-centre parties. Jobbik helped this with a thorough application of a wolf in sheep's clothing strategy: their MPs were quite active in parliament in attacking the government's misdeeds, racist rhetoric was suppressed to have more talk of economics (especially on election posters which were all positive-sounding and mostly omitted provocative far-right symbols), and a group more bent on street-fighting was forced to split off. Which doesn't mean that those that remained aren't a bunch of fascists with open disregard for civil rights and democracy whose best friends abroad remain Britain's BNP.

The election campaign also had the usual series of real, blown-out-of-proportion or entirely made-up scandals, but I refrain from discussing those.

All in all, what Hungary most resembles right now is Putin's "managed democracy" a few years ago, with the power grab, the entrenched government majority and discredited opposition, the nationalism, and the version 2 (loyal) oligarchs (but minus the oil). This brings me to my last theme: Orbán's turn to the east. A lot of that was about trying to get alternative financial sources: he went around shopping for credits and investment from the Gulf State dictatorships through China to the post-Soviet autocracies, albeit with rather limited success. However, there is more to it: some of his speeches indicate that he sees the crisis of Western democracy and views it as terminal, but thinks the way forward is something reactionary like Putinism.

The most significant result of the eastward turn was a recent agreement with Putin for the construction of two new nuclear reactors, financed with a €10 billion credit from the Russian government. This is sad in the light of Fidesz's earlier friendliness to renewables and ironic in the light of Fidesz's anti-Russian and energy-independence rhetoric six years ago when the previous government agreed on the South Stream pipeline. (Of course, the new nukes, if they will actually be built, will only ensure further dependence on gas imports for balance.) The eastward turn also resulted in support for the Russian line on Ukraine (helped by Ukrainian nationalist attacks on ethnic Hungarians in westernmost Ukraine).

Display:
In 2010, first-round turnout was 64.4% (the second lowest since the end of "communism"). This year, the partial turnout at 13h was below that four years ago.

Voting booths close at 19h, the vote count usually ends near midnight.

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

by DoDo on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 08:03:28 AM EST
Here is an anecdote about the inner workings of the new oligarch economy. As many of you know, I work for the state railways. One day, we got a strange request from one branch of the company for an expert opinion on the design of a track component. Strange because the design was obviously dangerous and against specifications, so it should have been rejected without much thought.

After much prodding, I got them to reveal the background. The bad design was a cheap solution which the biggest construction company of Hungary wanted to use. This company belongs to one of the Fidesz oligarchs through intermediaries and grew fat by receiving the majority of government contracts. So when the railway's engineers said that that solution violates specifications, sometime later the railway's managers told them to approve it unless they can prove that it's a bad solution. (At this point, even my Fidesz-voting far-right colleagues called bullshit. I wonder how many of them switched to Jobbik today...)

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

by DoDo on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 09:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is one of the more bizarre results of Fidesz rule. Orbán loves football, and thinks it could also serve propaganda. So Fidesz leaders and oligarchs got control of several top clubs and the government and the government-funded oligarchs gave a lot of money for stadium construction and other uses. (So far without results: Hungarian clubs and the national team keep failing at qualification level in international tournaments.) Including the team Orbán's oligarch-funded "private charity" founded in his home village Felcsút (population: 1,841), which got a covered stadium with 3,500 seats (which mostly stay empty). The whole facility with training pitches is almost as big the village itself (air photo from Index):

The Felcsút team was named Puskás Academy, in honour of Ferenc Puskás, a footballer who was first a top goalscorer of Budapest Honvéd FC and the 1954 World Cup silver medallist national team and then for Real Madrid (when he didn't return home after the 1956 Revolution). Recently, the team had a match with Puskás's former team, Budapest Honvéd FC. When Honvéd fans unfurled a banner with Puskás on it, Puskás Academy dignitaries had security guards take it down because it is their team's name! You can't make this up.

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

by DoDo on Thu Apr 10th, 2014 at 03:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like something straight out of SimCity2000.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 10:31:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SimCity or Sin City?

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 Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 10:39:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The following graph shows how unorthodox Fidesz's "unorthodox economic policy" really was (adapted from Index):



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

by DoDo on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 12:25:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the top 10% became relatively richer as a result of a right wing "unorthodox economic policy". How surprising.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 04:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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 ]
A predicted calamity came to pass: copying US voter suppression methods, those who wanted to vote away from their primary residence have been restricted to a few voting booths per election district, resulting in long lines, thus partial results won't be announced until all people standing in lines voted (or left).

There are no exit polls this time. Instead, there is one analysis based on the last pre-election polls and a post-election opinion poll. Both predict that Fidesz barely retained its two-thirds parliamentary majority, and LMP (the Greens outside the opposition alliance) barely passed the 5% limit.

One thing is certain: turnout was the new second-worst since the fall of "communism", it should be a little over 60%. Thus Fidesz won the three elections with the three lowest turnouts.

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

by DoDo on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 02:27:22 PM EST
In the list vote, the greens just passed the 5% limit:

  • Fidesz 45.1%
  • opposition alliance 25.2%
  • Jobbik 21.1%
  • LMP 5.0%

With Budapest votes still coming in, the opposition alliance and LMP are bound to rise a little more. In seats, it looks like Fidesz is just at the margin of two-thirds majority (having swept all but some Budapest districts and one countryside city with a Socialist major).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Apr 6th, 2014 at 05:18:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems we now have American conditions in the vote count, too, with still only 99% counted in the morning. The results won't change much, though:

Party/groupDirectionVote shareChangeSeats
Total/turnout 61.2%-3.1199
Fideszright-populist44.5%-8.3133
Alliancesocialist+liberal+green26.0%+4.038
Jobbikfar-right20.5%+4.923
LMPgreen5.3%-2.25
Workers' Partycommunist0.8%+0.50

(For the Alliance, I calculated the change is vs. the combined 2010 result of the Socialists (MSzP) and the neoliberal-conservative MDF.)

The least talked-about and most sordid fact about the election remains the low turnout.

Showing how the system became even more unfair, Fidesz just barely defended its two-thirds parliamentary majority with an eight percentage points lower share of the list votes, losing to the Alliance in only 10 of the 106 single-member election districts (eight of those in Budapest). Their list vote result includes winning 95% of the new ethnic-Hungarian vote abroad, which is still being counted. There are two single-member election districts with very close results (gaps of around 300 votes), with the Alliance's candidate ahead in one and Fidesz's in the other. If the latter result would flip to the Alliance on a recount, Fidesz would lose the two-thirds majority, but I don't bet on that.

In spite of the focus of the campaign on the urban working class, the Alliance candidates seem to have carried the vote in most of the plattenbau districts, and the most significant voter movement has been a further Fidesz to Jobbik swing in the villages. This means that unless there will be further major shifts until local elections in a few months, there will be a lot of far-right majors in the villages.

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

by DoDo on Mon Apr 7th, 2014 at 03:47:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A correction and an addition.

In the district that would need to flip in the final count (due on Saturday only...) for Fidesz to lose the two-thirds majority, the Fidesz candidate's advantage is just 22 votes, with at least two thousand votes remaining.

I refrained to discuss scandals, but this is the district of a Socialist local leader (replaced in the last minute) whom the government media exposed two months before the elections for having an undeclared bank deposit in Austria. I tentatively place this scandal in the blow-out-of-proportion category, because it seems Fidesz tried everything (including apparent forgery) to point into the direction that this must have been a party slush fund rather than private tax evasion. What I find most noteworthy, beyond the effect on the elections, is that (1) there are still Socialists dumb enough to believe that Fidesz won't find their shady business and exploit it to the maximum, (2) the leadership is still incapable of filtering out such people.

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

by DoDo on Tue Apr 8th, 2014 at 11:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason the result is still not official. However, the result is now final in that narrow district, the 22 vote gap widened to 60 votes, thus Fidesz maintained its two-thirds majority.

The near-final count of list votes includes nearly 130,000 votes from abroad (who are overwhelmingly new double citizens in neighbouring countries), with an unchanged 95% margin for Fidesz. Compared to the result for Hungary proper, this boosted Fidesz's result by 1.5 percentage points (that is, a 3.0 point net increase of the difference with the total opposition).

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

by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:12:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The strange thing is that Fidesz won even though its main campaign theme failed to draw the intended audience, achieving more by suppressing the vote (discouraging opposition voters) and of course by skewing the election system even more.

It appears the energy price cuts (in combination with the end of recession, the anti-IMF "freedom fight" and the pro-Fidesz televised mass "protests") did reinvigorate a large part of the middle-class voters Fidesz lost in the first two years of its government. However, that didn't work against Jobbik in the villages, nor did it shake the center-left's hold on Budapest's poorer districts (which was briefly lost in 2010 but re-established in polls soon after). This includes the southern district of Csepel, whose major Fidesz tasked with spearheading the "energy price battle", but he lost his single-member district against an unknown former NGO activist.

Then again, I long contend that people tend to vote according to party lines even in single-member election districts, and indeed Fidesz voters even re-elected one of the main beneficiaries of the tobacco shop franchise scam (the selling of tobacco products now can only be sold by specialised shops which in theory had to compete for permissions, but most went to Fidesz insiders).

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

by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 08:37:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two more factors of Fidesz victory worth to point out.

The supporters Fidesz could mobilise for its pro-government "protests" were predominantly rural old people (who are socially conservative and have public TV news as their primary news source). Orbán apparently took notice because in contrast to benefit cuts, there was a substantial increase of pensions before the elections.

The trend of low turnout and suppressed left-wing vote was especially pronounced in ghettoised Roma villages: turnouts as low as 20% but overwhelming Fidesz majorities. In past elections, there were persistent allegations of vote-buying and heavy-duty geto-out-the-vote exercises by both Fidesz and the Socialists (albeit not proven in court), boosted by the political prostitution of Roma organizations (the largest of which made the wrong bet in 2002 by allying with the then losing Fidesz, but stuck with them).

This time, the Socialists had nothing to offer, while Fidesz turned long-term jobless benefits recipients into forced-labourers under a "public works" program, and these are employed under the (mostly Fidesz-dominated) local governments. So this time there were stories of pressure on the "public works employees" to vote and vote for Fidesz. Election observers even reported cases of election officials forcing such people to declare themselves analphabetic so that they would have to allow the election officials to fill out their forms.

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

by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 10:49:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there was a substantial increase of pensions before the elections.

To be precise: with inflation below target, there was a substantial (5%) increase in the real value of pensions over the last two years, and this was emphasized in Fidesz's campaign. But pensioner voters were shafted, too: there was no such increase in the current year and further rises are unlikely, especially is the inflation-suppressing "energy price battle" is forgotten after the election.

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

by DoDo on Mon Apr 14th, 2014 at 01:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Dodo. I always appreciate your analysis.

Paul Gipe
by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Tue Apr 8th, 2014 at 09:19:46 AM EST
by das monde on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 01:52:38 AM EST
Change of what in the left graph?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 11:20:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of the same thing shown in absolute numbers on the right graph? I wonder what the measure of "unable to afford food" was, though.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 12:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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