Controversial Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban continues to enjoy massive opinion poll leads with exactly one month until parliamentary elections on Sunday 8 April. However several recent developments have given his opponents at home and abroad a glimmer of hope that he will not be re-elected with an overwhelming majority.
Firstly, while Orban’s right-wing Fidesz-KDNP continues to enjoy typical polling leads of at least 30 points, his average voting intention score has dropped slightly – by two percentage points between January and February. Meanwhile the opposition socialists of MSZP have picked up three points (see chart below). In the latest March polls, published yesterday, Fidesz is down two points with Nezopont to 52 per cent and falls by four points with Iranytu to 44 per cent.
Secondly, a shock local election result in late February in the southern town of Hodmezovasarhely, previously a Fidesz stronghold, has raised hopes that tactical voting combinations between the many weakened opposition forces could spring surprises around the country. In Hodmezovasarhely the Mayoral election was won by an independent who managed to score 57.5 per cent by uniting all parties against Fidesz – including the MSZP, the green-oriented LMP, and the centrists of the Democratic Coalition (DK) and Together (Egyutt).
The opposition is also pinning its hopes on the large number of undecided voters being reported in opinion polling. For example, with Republikon 39 per cent fall into the ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘Won’t Say’ categories. With turnout at just 61.7 per cent in the last General Election in April 2014, improving participation may be the key for the opposition forces.
Notwithstanding all that, the election is Orban’s to lose. Fidesz is one of only a handful of parties in any European country polling routinely over 40 per cent – and nor does it face a single powerful challenger. Indeed the Prime Minister considers his biggest threat to a third term comes from the far-right nationalist Jobbik – even though Jobbik averaged 16.5 per cent in February’s polling and has rarely climbed over the 20 per cent mark in the last six months. Hence some of the hardline rhetoric which has placed the Budapest government at odds with the European Commission and several EU member states, as well as earning the disapproval of much of the international media.
HUNGARY February polling averages
Voting intentions, per cent
(change on January in brackets)
Fidesz-KDNP 50.8 (-2.0)
Jobbik 16.5 (-0.4)
MSZP 14.0 (+3.1)
LMP 6.5 (+0.1)
DK 6.3 (-0.5)
Egyutt 1.2 (-0.2)
Others 4.2 (-0.6)
Pollsters for February: Nezopont, Publicus, Republikon (2), Szazadveg, Zavecz Research.
Pollsters for January: Iranytu (2), Median, Nezopont, Publicus, Republikon, Szazadveg, Tarki, Zavecz Research.
LATEST MARCH POLLS
Nezopont 7 March
Fidesz-KDNP 52, Jobbik 17, MSZP 10, LMP 9, DK 6, Egyutt 0, Others 6
Fieldwork: 01.03-05.03.2018. Participants: 1000. Telephone poll.
Iranytu 7 March
Fidesz-KDNP 44, Jobbik 22, MSZP 11, LMP 8, DK 8, Egyutt 0, Others 4
Participants: 1000. Telephone poll.
Szazadveg 1 March
Fidesz-KDNP 51, Jobbik 14, MSZP 10, LMP 7, DK 6, Egyutt 1, Others 4
Fieldwork: 26.02-28.02.2018. Participants: 1000. Telephone poll.
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