The right party, led by Viktor Orban, wins a resounding victory in the 1st round of general elections in Hungary

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Fondation Robert Schuman,  

Helen Levy

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12 April 2010
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Robert Schuman Fondation

Fondation Robert Schuman

Levy Helen

Helen Levy

The Young Democrats Alliance (Fidesz) led by former Prime Minister (1998-2002) Viktor Orban came out well ahead after the 1st round of the general elections held on 11th April in Hungary. The FIDESZ party won 52.73% of votes cast, ahead of the Socialist Party (MSZP), led by Attila Mesterhazy, in power for the past 8 years, which collected 19.31% of the vote.

Behind the heralded victory of FIDESZ, the real stakes in these general elections lie in the race for 2nd place. The extreme right party, Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) led by Gabor Vona, collected 16.67% of the vote, but remained behind the Socialist Party, contrary to that which had been forecast by certain polls before voting day.

Also contradicting opinion polls, the ecologist Politics Can Be Different party (LMP) won 7.44% of the vote, thus gaining entry to Parliament.

Voter turnout was slightly lower than that seen during the 1st round of general elections held on 9th April 2006 (- 3.54 points) at 64.29%.

"Itt az ido!" (This is the moment!) was on the FIDESZ campaign posters. Viktor Orban was almost certain to return to power after 8 years in opposition. The question in this election was in fact to discover whether his party could win absolute majority after the general election or the 2/3 mark that would enable him to modify the Constitution. Results after this first round would appear to indicate that this will far from the case.

"Hungarians have voted for Hungary and its future. I can feel in my body and I know in my heart that I am facing the greatest task of my life. I will need all the people of Hungary to help me succeed in it" declared Viktor Orban when the results were announced.

The Socialist Party, which Hungarians hold responsible for all the country's woes, is completely discredited. Although it has done better than opinion polls suggested it has nevertheless lost over half of its voters over these past 4 years.

This 1st round is marked by the breakthrough of the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik). This time the party has confirmed the result it achieved in the European elections held last June, where it won 14.77% of the vote (3 seats in the Strasbourg Parliament), but back in June turnover was low with only 36.31% of Hungarians casting their vote. The result achieved by Jobbik, which nonetheless fails to take 2nd place from the Socialist Party, is a first in Hungary since the fall of communism in 1989. At a previous general election, held in 1998, another far right party, the Party for Justice and Life (MIEP), collected 5.43% of the vote, winning 14 seats in Parliament.

Jobbik is combating those it calls enemies of Hungary, that is to say Bolsheviks, multinationals, capitalists, politicians, the elite, which are necessarily corrupt, the European Union and the "Tel-Aviv-Washington-Brussels" axis, and is quick to enflame tension between the various sectors of the Hungarian population, particularly between Roma and non-Roma.

Jobbik entered the political scene during the autumn 2006 riots sparked by the distribution of a cassette containing a speech given behind closed doors by the Prime Minister at the time Ferenc Gyurcsany (MSZP) to members of parliament from his party, in which he acknowledged that he had lied to voters in order to win the elections held on 9th and 23rd April 2006. "In Hungary, in certain intellectual circles, there has always been a certain degree of ultra-nationalism strongly tinged with anti-Semitism. Yet, through the rise of the Movement for a Better Hungary, we are seeing the emergence of a new generation of politicians who have succeeded in making a link between this ideology and the frustrations they are facing today. Young people, including students, have the feeling that they are living in a society that is at a standstill, a bit like France before May 1968. The Jobbik party attracts them because its message is anti-establishment and it is the only party with this message in a country where the far left does not exist" says Attila Fölz, professor of political sciences at the Central European University.

So far Viktor Orban has excluded any kind of alliance with Jobbik but the result achieved by the latter will certainly have an impact on the political action of the future government. It will not be without importance either for neighbouring States, particularly the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which are set to renew their Parliaments in June.

Viktor Orban has stated that the Hungarian people have voted against "lack of hope" and has promised "to bring the country out of despair". However during the election campaign he did not give much detail about how he intends to go about keeping his promise. "It would be irresponsible to make promises we are unable to keep. We must be aware that external factors can be unforeseeable. However we do have objectives: to create a million jobs over 10 years, to reduce taxes and to fight corruption" declared Janos Martonyi, former (1998-2002) – and probably the next – Foreign Minister.

The Hungarians expect a lot from FIDESZ, beginning with an improvement in their living conditions and spending power, which have been badly shaken over recent years.

The 2nd round of the general elections will be held on 25th April, in constituencies where MPs are elected by single-name majority poll and where no-one has yet obtained absolute majority. But one thing is already certain, former Prime Minister Viktor Orban is assured of a return to power on 25th April 2010.

Source: Hungarian Electoral Commission

Link to the analysis of the Hungarian think tank "Szazadveg" on general elections in Hungary: http://www.robert-schuman.eu/doc/actualites/diplomata_20100412.pdf

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