Results from the first round of Hungary’s general elections on April 11 have made it clear that Fidesz will have an absolute majority in the next Parliament. Once the dust clears from the April 25 runoff vote, it is very likely that Fidesz will emerge with a two-thirds majority. This will enable the party to amend Hungary’s Constitution singlehandedly. Hungarians appear to have abandoned their bi-polar, left-right political structure in favour of a dominant-party system. At the same time, a two-thirds supermajority can pose just as many political risks for Fidesz as advantages.

 

 

Unexpected and Interesting Results:

  • The Socialists won 19.3% of the vote – better than most polls predicted, but probably still not enough to block Fidesz from gaining two-thirds.
  • Politics Can Be Different (LMP) won more votes than most polls predicted.
  • The party ’s main base is among young, left-leaning intellectuals. The results show the party was most successful in university cities, especially Budapest.
  • Jobbik was also successful in targeting the youth vote. Both Jobbik and the LMP attracted young voters away from Fidesz. While the LMP was most successful in large cities, Jobbik performed better among less-educated people in the countryside, according to the polls.
  • Jobbik’s worst results were in the capital, where it took 10.8% of the vote, compared to a national average of 16.7%. Their support base is completely different from the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP)’s, an anti-Semitic extreme right-wing party that was in Parliament between  1998 and 2002. MIÉP was strongest in Budapest.

 

 

Will Fidesz Win Two-Thirds?

  • First-round results make it seem very likely that Fidesz will be able to form a single-party government with a two-thirds majority, in line with Political Capital’s expectations.[1] The incoming government will enjoy rock-solid stability with the strongest parliamentary support of any administration since communism collapsed.
  • Even if Fidesz fails to gain two-thirds, it is virtually certain that they will be able to pass the 66.7% mark with support from the Politics Can Be Different (LMP) party, a new left-wing/green formation that could be a strategic partner for Fidesz – or possibly a coalition partner in future parliamentary cycles.
  • A total of 57 constituencies remain in play for the runoff election scheduled for April 25 (Fidesz’s candidates scored outright victories in the other 119 individual districts on April 11). A harsh campaign will continue in the handful of districts where neither Fidesz’s nor the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP)’s candidate has a clear lead.
  • The MSZP would have to win at least 10 constituencies out of 57 in order to block Fidesz from taking two thirds. This looks unlikely: On April 11, Fidesz’s candidates came in first place in all of Hungary’s 176 constituencies save one. In addition, the Socialists do not have any political allies who could throw support their way in the second round.
  • Fidesz therefore has a strong chance of winning the 47 constituencies it needs to gain a two-thirds majority on April 25.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Mobile Voters” Scandal: A non-starter

  • The announcement of the election results on April 11 was delayed by several hours thanks to problems processing “mobile voters” – people who received permission to vote in a district other than their own. In cities such as Budapest, Győr and Debrecen, “mobile voters” were still standing in line hours after the polling booths were scheduled to close. The Socialists (or their allies) may attack the results from these constituencies in court, claiming that Fidesz deliberately sent its supporters to these districts in order to dilute support for the MSZP.
  • They would be unlikely to prevail. All evidence suggests that the “mobile voter” problems were down to poor organization, not gerrymandering. Conspiracy theories that Fidesz deliberately bussed voters to these districts can be easily disproved:  “Mobile voters” did not vote overwhelmingly for Fidesz.

 

A Fidesz Supermajority: The Challenges Ahead

  • Even with a two-thirds supermajority, Fidesz may not have an easy time governing. Orbán is going to be in for a hard landing once he starts making tough choices about meaningful policies, and people realize that Fidesz’s campaign promises of “change” were not all they were cracked up to be.
  • Orbán’s room for maneouvre is going to be very narrow on certain issues. For example, his ardent opposition to the Socialists’ plans for private investment in healthcare will make it virtually impossible for him to turn to private health investors now.
  • Fidesz’s fiscal hands will also be tied by the terms of Hungary’s standby loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Huge deficit spending is not an option.
  • A supermajority represents an opportunity for Fidesz: The party will be able to modify the Constitution, change the system of municipalities, offer dual citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries, and nominate officials such as Constitutional Court judges without having to cut deals with other parties.
  • At the same time, two-thirds may also pose huge difficulties:
    • Since Fidesz will be able to do almost whatever its wants politically, the party will be solely responsible for its own decisions. It will not have the luxury of blaming its problems on the opposition’s unwillingness to cooperate or on legal constraints. If Fidesz needs to take unpopular measures, the only scapegoats available will be the outgoing Socialist government or the terms of Hungary’s international agreements (i.e. Hungary’s IMF loan contract or its euro convergence program).
    • Huge conflicts may arise within Fidesz should the party try to modify the laws that require a two-thirds majority for amendments. Some Fidesz MPs may oppose plans to cut the number of seats in Parliament or to reform the hugely expensive system of municipal governments. In addition, granting dual nationality to ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries will raise the risk of international conflicts or diplomatic isolation within the European Union.

 


[1] A Two-Thirds Majority for Fidesz – Chances, Opportunities and Risks http://www.riskandforecast.com/post/hungary/a-two-thirds-majority-for-fidesz-chances-opportunities-and-risks_410.html