"The anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union on October 23rd should have been a day of national unity. But the tens of thousands of demonstrators in two competing protests that day in Budapest, the country’s capital, showed how polarised Hungarian society has become under the rule of the pugnacious prime minister Viktor Orban and his populist Fidesz party. (...)
Fidesz came to power promising to support the beleaguered middle class. Tax cuts for families with several children have helped it, but many others are still in pain. Professionals such as doctors and teachers earn a fraction of what they would get in the West, yet food and utility bills are now barely cheaper.
Mr Orban recently claimed that he governed 'ten million freedom fighters'. The reality is more mundane. Many Hungarians remember how they voted overwhelmingly to join the European Union. They want Budapest to stand up for their country’s interests but in a reasonable manner. They are growing tired of Mr Orban’s belligerent rhetoric, especially while the government is still seeking a deal with the EU and the International Monetary Fund for a loan of €15 billion ($19.5 billion).
The biggest party is that of the undecided. Half of voters say they do not support any party. So the race remains wide open. Mr Orban’s nightmare is that the relaunched Mr Bajnai will unite the fractious opposition, reassure business people and the middle class, and thus bring the legions of undecided to the polling booths. The prime minister is right to be worried."