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The European elections in Hungary

Hungary joined the EU in 2004. The country’s political landscape, however, has drastically changed since then. Hungary was at the forefront of the end of communism, when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, and in the same year, the country transitioned from a communist party system to democracy after its constitution was heavily amended in 1989 and democratic elections took place in 1990. Since then, Hungary has been a democratic republic with a unicameral Parliament. However, many constitutional amendments enacted since the conservative Fidesz-KDNP party alliance won parliamentary elections in 2010, which has led to a democratic backslide.

Ever since, the country has been driven into a one-party system, with almost all power wielded by the prime minister and Fidesz political leader, Viktor Orban.

For the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections, Fidesz runs its campaign with a limited program: it basically consists of seven sentences about migration and protecting the Christian culture of Europe. With the very same messages, they were able to win a majority of the votes in last year’s governmental elections. This is due to the fact that of all EU members, Hungary has the worst press freedom after Bulgaria, according to Reporters without Borders. Moreover, the country also ranks as the second most corrupt, better than Bulgaria but worse than Romania (which like Bulgaria, is under EU supervision under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism). Orban and his Fidesz party have launched a serious media campaign already years ago, which peaked in an anti-immigration media campaign that featured unflattering photos of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and billionaire philanthropist George Soros earlier this year.

Not surprisingly, this resulted in serious criticism from politicians all over Europe and after a heated debate in Brussels in mid-March, and Fidesz’s membership was suspended by the European Parliament’s biggest grouping, EPP.

Nevertheless, the most recent projections suggest Orban’s Fidesz party will comfortably win the European elections with over 50% of the votes. This would result in 12-13 MEP seats. It is not yet clear if the EPP would benefit from these seats, as no decision has been made over the suspension and the future membership of Fidesz after the elections. Furthermore, Orban recently met with Italy’s Matteo Salvini and although no concrete plans were announced, it is clear that the two have been in agreement over their vision for Europe – particularly on migration.

The opposition parties are lagging far behind Fidesz: the far-right Jobbik and the right-wing MSZP, which currently poll between 11-14% in various polls could each win three seats in the new European Parliament. In the case of MSZP, these would go to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). Jobbik does not currently belong to any European political grouping.

The last party with a chance of gaining seats is the social liberal DK, led by former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. It could potentially gain two MEPs for the S&D. Two parties that poll below the electoral threshold of 5% might possibly have a chance of securing an MEP: the green LMP, followed by the social-liberal Momentum. The upstart liberal party, Momentum has top candidates including Katalin Cseh, member of ALDE’s Team Europe.

The turnout for the elections is predicted to be below 30%, which is also thanks to this anti-EU propaganda of Fidesz.