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Ahead of Hungarian General Elections—issues, pledges and campaign rhetoric (II)

In my last blog entry of 1st March, I talked about the possibility of Hungarian opposition political parties’ uniting forces against Fidesz in this General elections of 8th April and have speculated if Fidesz would live up to its statement that it would not use ‘Soros’ in their election campaign.  So what happened in the past four weeks? Did the opposition political parties form alliances? Is Soros still part of Fidesz’ election campaign material? How is Fidesz doing in the opinion polls? Is Jobbik losing ground on this election trail? Are Greens and the Socialists doing better? What pledges have been made in relation to the EU?

So far the opposition political parties did not form any alliance between them. The major opposition political party Jobbik refuses to negotiate with the Socialist Party (MSZP) and the Democratic Coalition, but suggests that it could talk to the LMP Green and the Momentum after elections. Likewise the Left and the socialist parties reject to have any form of interaction with Jobbik. I believe this means that the opposition political parties will not unite against Fidesz, at least not before the elections, but there is hope for post-elections.

George Soros is still at the top of agenda in Fidesz’s election rallies and is the most mentioned about during this election campaign. This will probably continue to be the case until the end of the elections. At the same time Fidesz remains to be the most popular in the opinion polls, it is polling around 50 % among the decided voters; hence is very likely to form the next government. However this is not because the opposition political parties are least popular, but because they are most divided, making the opposition significantly weak, unable to have the necessary number of seats to stand strong against Fidesz. Also it is not because Fidesz is pledging policies that would make some serious changes in the way the country is run, but because it is turning a blind eye to Hungary’s social, political and economic problems. On the contrary, immigration and Soros are the two single and intertwined issues that make up the rhetoric adopted by Fidesz at this election campaign. When it comes to immigration, Fidesz’s Viktor Orban can go as far as to reject EU’s migrant quotas and the United Nation’s Global Compact on Migration plan in its current form. He said that if migration becomes a human right, this would be a recipe for destroying the Earth, leading to a primitive humanity.

Whereas Jobbik that was once recognised as a radical and nationalist political party, which has now shifted to centre-ground, happen to find Fidesz’s position on immigration and Soros as extreme, suggesting that Fidesz is using Soros as a tool to scare the people and distract them from important problems. Furthermore Jobbik makes innovative policy promises that both could attract young people and could benefit the Hungarian people. For instance Jobbik’s leader Gabor Vona promises instead of party-political or communications political governance, they would introduce expert governance, and who would give the leading positions to those who have the most relevant expertise. And he proposes to introduce e-referendum and e-consultations as a means for soliciting social feedback. Political commentators predict that Jobbik will do much better in the election than it is expected, undecided voters are likely to opt for Jobbik this time, it is suggested. I think however that the unsavoury past of Jobbik will make voters think twice in the voting booth, while doubting sincerity of Jobbik’s leadership.

The Green LMP and the Socialists do not entirely seem to be part of this election campaign; there is not much media coverage on what they are proposing or on what they are up to. There may be many reasons for this, but this is not the right platform to speculate. I think these parties most probably will maintain their low profile/small party position in the Hungarian politics post-elections.

As for European Union, 4-6 weeks ago, Orban refused to take part in Macron’s consultation on the future of the EU, but now he said that ‘let’s hold them and each nation should make the best use of its national practices’. It is promising to see that Orban can change his mind on this matter and be part of the crowd. Moreover while the EU wanted to decide on the migrant quote issue in the current cycle of the European Parliament, Orban wishes that he could prevent that from taking place, pointing to the European Parliament elections of 2019, suggesting that the anti-immigration forces are to make advances and change the face of the EU on immigration. Fidesz is already forging alliances with other EU anti-immigration political parties such as the Italian Five Star Movement and the Austrian Social Democratic Party and Freedom Party. This means that if Fidesz wins this general election, which is very likely, then its anti-immigration stance and rhetoric will only get stronger and more effective with its newly formed alliances both at domestic and at the EU levels.

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