Will the illiberalism be further developed in Hungary? Civil society vs. the Orbán government

On the 25th of April 2018 at the joint event of European Liberal Forum and Republikon Foundation “Will the illiberalism be further developed in Hungary? – Civil society vs. the Orbán government” analysts and representatives of the civil society evaluated the 2018 Hungarian parliamentary elections and the prospects for the following years. In the first part of the conference presentations took place. Ágoston Sámuel Mráz, CEO of Nézőpont Group, Tibor Závecz, director of Závecz Research, Andrea Virág, researcher at Republicon Institute and Zoltán Levente Ember, researcher at Iránytű Institute summarized the conclusions of the elction results. Ágoston Sámuel Mráz admitted being surprised by the third consecutive two-third majority of the governing party. In his opinion the partial failure of tactical voting, the weak and divided opposition, the favourable economic situation and the electoral system are all contributing factors of the Fidesz victory. In terms of consequences he pointed out that this majority gives a mandate to pass qualified majority legislation, make decisions regarding personnel without the opposition and also creates a “legitimate power” to make constitutional changes, however radical steps would only give ammunition to the opposition. Mráz finally added that for the next legislative period demography will be the central issue. Other than public policy questions, attracting young voters and managing a generation change inside the party will all be priorities for Fidesz. When a member of the audience asked whether the 2018 elections were legitimate Mráz stated that the opposition was aware of the electoral system, they also participated, therefore it was a legitimate election.

Tibor Závecz focused on the dilemmas of pollsters. He told that the overestimation of Fidesz support was a long-time empirical experience of the past, and although it might have been true at this elections too, combined with the unpredictable increase in the villages, the over and underestimation neutralized each other. Závecz explained the election results with voting probability, he told that while Fidesz draw in all of its possible supporters (also the Jobbik party and MSZP) opposition parties like the Democratic Coalition produced poor voter turnout, therefore could not maximize their votes. Závecz detailed the effect of the cooperation between the opposition parties. In his opinion the MSZP-DK coordination worked well in Budapest, but on the other hand in the countryside the common candidate got less votes than the two parties list in total, meaning that the pressure for tactical voting confused or deterred some of their supporters. The search for the most probable candidate, and tactical voting between left-wing liberal parties and Jobbik had a similar effect.

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