Election in Hungary: Anti-Mainstream Parties Are Back in Parliament

2014. április 7. 00:39

Fidesz scored a landslide victory in the April 6 election, propelling the strong government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to a second successive term to lead Hungary. The old left again suffered a disastrous defeat, while two other parties – the radical right-wing Jobbik and the green-liberal LMP – have reason to be pleased with their results.

Indeed, the anti-mainstream parties of Hungarian politics have stood their ground. In the case of Jobbik, it was no surprise. In 2010, the party’s populist tenor and radical messaging resonated amid complex political, economic and social crises. Jobbik won 16 percent of the vote that year, finding support mostly in Hungary’s poorer northern and eastern regions. Back then, no one could predict how Jobbik might morph over the next four years. There were fears that they could grow stronger yet and pose a serious challenge to the governing Fidesz. There were also hopes that the Jobbik might be a passing fancy, and that as the country found its way out of crisis, the right-wing radicals would lose ground and disappear.

None of that happened. Rather, as the April 6 election returns show, Jobbik has become a long-term participant in Hungarian politics. They neither gained much support nor lost any. Initially outsiders, they became more predictable once in parliament. Jobbik worked hard to strengthen themselves in the Hungarian countryside. The 2014 parliamentary elections demonstrate their effectiveness in these rural precincts. Yet Jobbik’s successes there were only modest. It seems that there are vast regions of eastern and northern Hungary where Fidesz proved a much more appealing option to voters – often by large margins. While Jobbik failed to close the gap with Fidesz, the radical right proved stronger than the parties of the old left in many parts of the country – in the majority of the 88 voting districts in the Hungarian countryside, in fact. In Budapest, Jobbik remained relatively weak). A Jobbik candidate in the eastern city of Misolc came very close to winning the district outright.
 

Our other articles about the story of Jobbik and LMP:

 
 
 
 
On the other hand, it was in Budapest where LMP, the small green-liberal party, secured its parliamentary presence. The party's name (LMP - Lehet Más a Politika, or Politics Can Be Different) remained popular enough to reach the 5 percent parliamentary threshold. LMP has it roots in the urban liberal New Left as well as in the smallholder, rural conservative traditions. They were and remained a small party, and one that suffered a huge internal crisis during the past four years, when many of its leading politicians departed.

But the leader and strategist of the party, András Schiffer, stayed true to LMP’s roots. This small political group became a kind of least-worst option for many who are dissatisfied with Hungary’s current political landscape. LMP remained weak in the countryside. But urban liberal voters fed up with the old left-liberal parties proved numerous enough to open the parliamentary doors to LMP. And so while Hungary’s old Socialists continue their seemingly inexorable electoral slide, their seats fill with representatives from anti-mainstream parties on the far right and far left. Fortunately, in the center, Fidesz will continue to be a stabilizing force.
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