What is the significance of illiberal Viktor Orbán’s victory for Hungary? How will the results impact the institutional renewal in the EU? What changes can be expected in Hungary during the local governments elections later this year?
This time we have voted more
One year after the April 2018 national elections, the European elections were a major opportunity for Hungarians to give feedback about the political situation. Many Hungarians did the job, used their right and participated in the elections. Alltogether, 3 424 677 valid votes have been counted so far which means a 43,37% of participation. This is a significant increase compared to the 2014 results (28,97%) showing that the country is deeply committed to Europe. However, cca 60.000 votes casted abroad and by sent by mail have not been counted, yet – including mine.
1.) The dominance of the Viktor Orbán led Fidesz is constant since 2010 – the illiberal approach is about to stay for a while
These elections confirmed the unique political performance of Viktor Orbán: the ultimate score of politics are votes and on this front, Fidesz delivers extraordinarily well. As it is the number one priority of the Hungarian Prime minister, results are there. No one can deny that remaining in power since 2010, winning more than 50% of the votes, and having an almost 2/3 majority of the MEP places is an excellent political perfomance.
This is true even, if political success does not equal with good governance. The results was based a huge media and communication hegemony, with biased news and imbalanced resources. The government run a huge, simplified propaganda campaign simplifying the elections to migration and it worked. The rule of law, the check and balances and the media freedom have been hurted significantly which eroded the reputation of the government in the Western world. The perception of illiberal Hungary abroad can be summarised in the Sargentini-report.
2.) The opposition side was turned upside down ahead of local elections
Surprisingly, the often described party of one of the most controversial politicians, former Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány has been performed very well, and became the largest opposition party. Likewise, a very new, liberal party which blocked the Hungarian Olympic initiative and did not perform well during the national elections, soared almost until 10% and became the third biggest party in the country. The once ruling Socialist Party and the green Politics can be different movement received the last push to disappear – they performed miserably as they lost both their credibility and their characteristic leaders. Likewise the far right Jobbik party has been split recently and its extremist wing left. The separated part (Our Nation) did not pass the 5% treshold, Jobbik is about to loose its identity. The former Green parties suffered major losses, too. A joke party is still on the political agenda with even small increase.
How did Hungary elect in 2019 in ligth of the numbers? – explainer
Hungary, with a population of 10 million can delegate 21 MEPs to the European Parliament. Here are the results in numbers:
Parties delegating MEPs to the EP
13 MEP – EPP/ECR/ENF/NI Fidesz – 52,14 % – (1 777 757)
4 MEP – S & D – Demokratikus Koalíció (DK) – Democratic Coalition – 16,26% (554 286)
2 MEP – ALDE – Momentum Mozgalom – Momentum Movement – 9,92% (338 314)
1 MEP – S & D – Magyar Szocialista Párt (MSZP) – Párbeszéd Magyarországért (PM) – Hungarian Socialist Party – Dialogue for Hungary 6,68 % (227 786)
1 MEP – NI – Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom – For a Better Hungary Movement – 6,44 % (219 539)
A Mi Hazánk – Our Nation (EFN) – 3,33 % (113 529)
Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt (MKKP) Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party (NI) – 2,63% (89 635 )
Lehet Más a Politika (LMP) – Politics can be different (The Greens) – 2,19% (74 554)
Munkáspárt – Communist party (GUE/NLF) – 0,42% (14 385)
3.) The European dynamics – Hungary changes fabourite European political groups
During the 2014-2019 election term, the country had 12 EPP MEPs, 4 &D MEPs, 2 Green and 3 Non-attached ones. The biggest potential change is concerning the new Fidesz MEPs: they can well remain within the EPP but there are chances that they will be expelled in which case they can join either the ENF forces led by Le Pen and Salvini or the conservative ECR group where their Polish friends, the PiS MEPs sit. Ultimately, they can be non attached, as well.
The Hungarian S & D delegation has been reinforced from 4 to 5 although with completly new members.
There will be no Green MEPs this time but instead 2 new ALDE MEPs.
Jobbik will only have 1 non attached MEPs instead of 3.
4.) Politics are about performance and without doing the job properly the opposition cannot dream about change
Someone cannot be beated by no-one. Despite the fact that illiberal Hungary is subject to criticism and the harrasment of NGOs and the campaign against the Central European University were very controversial moves, this dissatisfaction alone does not lead to political change. Change needs work and political performance. On this note, the opposition can learn from the ruling party which is very good at power tactics, campaigns and efficiency. It is maybe not a coincidence that those opposition forces performed well which had effective campaigns (United States of Europe for the S & D DK or Education, Healthcare, Employment for the ALDE Momentum). By the way, both opposition lists were led by a women – maybe the time for more women in the Hungarian politics is finally there?
5.) Quo vadis, Fidesz? – In lack of the rise of the far right, there is good chance for consolidation
There is good chance that the result will moderate the Fidesz party and instead of further conflicts, some kind of consolidation will come. In the past, Viktor Orbán has always changed pragmatically the direction and given that the power of far right is not as big as many thoughts, it can give extra motivation for Fidesz to remain within the EPP instead of changing. That may be good news for the CEU, NGOs for the country and for Europe. Fidesz can send a moderate Commissioner – re-nominating Tibor Navracsics, a Fidesz politician close to EPP will be a clear sign of that. There are progressive MEPs among the 13 – including the first candidate legal professor László Trócsányi, the lead of the Hungarian EU Presidency Enikő Győri in 2011, champion of disability rights Ádám Kósa or the ‘mother’ of the European Roma Framework, the Roma Lívia Járóka.
The potential of consolidation, and the people to implement it are clearly there. Will it be used?Zoltán Massay-Kosubek