When Hungarians picked up their ballots to vote in April’s national elections, more than half of their 23 choices were parties they’d never heard of. The familiar players — Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik — were there, along with, yes, the Two-Tailed Dog Party, known for its community projects but also for not only promised to fill the capital’s streets with beer to end traffic jams, but also plastered signs around Budapest calling for eternal life plus 20 years for all Hungarians. But what about the “Party for a Sporty and Healthy Hungary,” “Poor People for Hungary,” and “The Party for All Poor People?” Along with 11 more, they have no website, no campaign materials — and no real intention to win votes. They’re called “fake parties,” and they’re not aspiring victory. Hungarian police are investigating some 100 cases of suspected election fraud by parties that appear to have been created shortly before the 2014 elections to cash in on lucrative campaign subsidies. But experts say that those parties aren’t just formed to siphon campaign money. They’re helping Orban cement his hold on power.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Hungary.
Tens of thousands of Hungarians demonstrated in Budapest Saturday against the re-elected Fidesz-KDNP coalition led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Opponents of the government flooded from the Opera House to Parliament to protest at what they say is an unfair electoral system, according to media reports. Orbán won a third straight term in power in elections on April 8 on the back of a strongly anti-immigrant campaign. The incumbent coalition has regained a two-thirds supermajority in the National Assembly, with final results showing that Fidesz and its ally the Christian Democratic Peopleʼs Party (KDNP) won 133 seats in the 199-seat legislature. Opposition protesters complained that Hungary’s electoral rules – a hybrid of first-past-the-post voting and proportional representation – have given the governing coalition such a large majority in Parliament despite it winning only around 49% of the popular vote.
Thousands of Hungarians protested in Budapest on Saturday against what organisers said was an unfair election system that gave prime minister Viktor Orbán another landslide victory at the polls after a “hate campaign” against immigrants. Orbán won a third term in power after his anti-immigration campaign message secured a strong majority for his ruling Fidesz party in parliament, granting him two-thirds of seats based on preliminary results. In a Facebook post before the rally, organisers called for a recount of ballots, free media, a new election law, as well as more efficient cooperation among opposition parties instead of the bickering seen in the run-up to the vote.
International observers have delivered a damning verdict on the parliamentary election in Hungary, complaining of “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing”. The vote on Sunday delivered an overwhelming victory for Viktor Orbán, who will now serve a third consecutive term as prime minister. Orbán and his Fidesz party campaigned almost exclusively on a programme of keeping migrants out of the country. “Rhetoric was quite hostile and xenophobic and that’s a fact which we find regrettable in an electoral context,” said Douglas Wake, the head of the monitoring mission for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), at a briefing in Budapest on Monday. The observers found that the hostile campaign “limited space for substantive debate and diminished voters’ ability to make an informed choice”. They also noted that public television “clearly favoured the ruling coalition”.
It’s a safe bet that few in Brussels are celebrating Viktor Orbán’s resounding win. Elected for a fourth term, Hungary’s anti-immigrant nationalist leader poses a profound challenge for the European Union. Since returning as prime minister in 2010, Orbán and his Fidesz party have chipped away at Hungary’s democratic checks and balances, curbed judicial independence and clamped down on the independent media. Hungary’s democratic backsliding has been accompanied by a drumbeat of xenophobic rhetoric, directed against refugees, Brussels and George Soros. The EU, used to grappling with Brexit, is now confronting a country at the heart of the continent making an exit from the club’s liberal values, but continuing to pick up the cheques.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leads the polls by a mile, his opposition is a bickering patchwork of smaller parties that won’t coordinate and he dominates the public agenda through his firm grip on the media. Yet there is still a chance – a slim chance – that he could lose his majority on Sunday. That’s because a growing number of voters – guided by widely publicized independent and party-sponsored surveys available online – may be set to discard ideology and party allegiances to vote for the candidates who are most likely to win. “Voters might actually do what these parties fail to do, which is vote for the candidate who has the best chance,” Csaba Toth, strategic director of local thinktank Republikon Institue.
The election ads were both urgent and familiar: If residents didn’t vote for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party, Europe would be swamped with migrants. Pushed in billboards and Facebook ads, the campaign fell flat during local elections in this small town in the Hungarian heartland, once fiercely loyal to Mr. Orban, who built barbed-wire fences to keep out migrants at the height of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis. “I am tired of this topic,” said pensioner Zoltanne Egressy, among the 58% of voters who backed the opposition at the polls in February, delivering a shock defeat to the internationally renowned politician on his home turf. “There is nobody at the border!”
Hungary: ‘Ghettos and no-go zones’: Hungary’s far right fuels migrant fears ahead of vote | The Guardian
Nobody in Miskolc can say with certainty that they have ever seen a migrant or a refugee in the city. A few residents think they might have seen one or two people back in 2015 but cannot be sure. Others say their friends have seen migrants in the streets but admit they have not seen any themselves. And yet, in this city of 160,000 inhabitants in north-east Hungary, a fierce election campaign is under way in which there is one overriding issue being discussed ahead of the vote on 8 April. It is not the recent series of corruption scandals involving government officials and vast sums of money. Nor is it the depressing state of local healthcare or low wages. It is migration. The tone for the election in Miskolc – as across the country – has been set by Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who is seeking to win a third consecutive term on a far-right platform of sealing Hungary’s borders to migrants.
In Budapest 1, a parliamentary district at the heart of the Hungarian capital, most voters will not support the party of Viktor Orban, the country’s far-right prime minister, in a general election on April 8. Yet as things stand, Mr. Orban’s party, Fidesz, will hold on to the seat — and its huge majority in Parliament. That speaks as much to the relative strength of Mr. Orban’s base as it does to his gerrymandering and his allies’ takeover of most private news outlets. But it’s also because Hungary’s gaggle of small left-liberal opposition parties, who collectively form a majority in seats like this one, refuse to join forces behind a unity candidate.
Hungary’s ruling right-wing nationalist party Fidesz suffered an unexpected setback at the weekend when its candidate for mayor in the southern city of Hodmezovasarhely was defeated in a closely watched contest. The liberal opposition-backed independent candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, had 57.5% of the vote over Fidesz’ Zoltan Hegedus, who captured 41.6% of the electorate. Election officials said turnout was significantly higher than last round of parliamentary elections in 2014, with 62.4% of eligible voters in Hodmezovasarhely having cast a ballot.