Budapest, October 13 (MTI) – “With our success in the local elections, we have our third win,” while in Budapest “we have more than a two-thirds,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Fidesz leader, said after preliminary results were released on Sunday evening.
Turnout, at around 42 percent with 80 percent of votes counted, was lower than 46 percent four years ago.
“Cohesion, cooperation and unity have won the day”, the prime minister said, adding that “animosity, division, cynicism and hopelessness have been defeated … We will make Hungary great in the next four years,” Orban said after Fidesz won in 22 out of Hungary’s 23 major cities.
Socialist stalwart Laszlo Botka won the southern city of Szeged, the left-wing opposition’s only big city win.
Pollsters and political analysts had expected radical nationalist Jobbik to perform well in rural areas. In the end the party came second in 17 out of 19 counties and won in nine towns, up from three in 2010. In Budapest, as expected, it failed to make a breakthrough.
Gabor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, said his party had notched up a significant achievement in the local elections, adding he trusted that in the 2018 general election voters would have a choice between Fidesz and Jobbik. He said that Fidesz’s “two-thirds majority will not last forever,” and so Jobbik would start preparing for government.
The poor north-eastern city of Miskolc was a key battleground with a tight three-way race expected between Fidesz, the leftist opposition and Jobbik. In the end, Fidesz won comfortably, the left-wing opposition came second and Jobbik third.
Istvan Tarlos, the Fidesz-backed mayor of Budapest, who was voted back into power with just over 49 percent, told supporters he would focus on resolving the city’s problems. “It won’t be an easy job, but we will be there, and you can rely on us.”
In the capital, Fidesz won 17 out of 23 districts. The others were won by the left-wing parties and an independent. In the assembly Fidesz will have 20 representatives out of 33, the Socialists 5, DK 2, E-PM 2, Jobbik and LMP a single one each and there will be one independent and a joint candidate of the leftist parties.
Lajos Bokros, who came in second in the race to become Budapest mayor, said that his result should be considered a victory “in a dictatorship”. Commenting on his garnering 36 percent of the votes late on Sunday, Bokros said that “though we are happy with that result, we will have to work hard so that Hungary can shrug the octopus off in 2018.”
Socialist Party leader Jozsef Tobias, licking his wounds and lashing out at fellow left-wingers, declared that his party would no longer be willing to strike compromises. “The Socialist leadership has decided to no longer take part in a game of elites, will not strike bad compromises and will open to the public, to the people,” he vowed. He also branded Ferenc Gyurcsany, DK’s leader as “authoritarian”.
Gyurcsany for his part said the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) has made a step forward, but smaller than expected. “DK has not stepped backwards, but has not advanced as much as it wanted to,” he added.
Green party LMP has stood the test in the local elections, its co-leader Andras Schiffer said, adding, however that he had hoped for a better result. LMP has won enough mandates nationwide that it can “build on its strength”, he said.
Viktor Szigetvari, manager of leftist opposition E-PM’s campaign, said the low turnout in Sunday’s local ballot served as a warning to every democrat.
Think-tank Nezopont said the governing parties had consolidated their positions on all fronts, ranging from the capital city to Hungary’s villages. Senior analyst Csaba Fodor told MTI the governing parties were more successful in mobilising their supporters, while the left-wing forces, facing grave difficulties in defining themselves, failed to develop a clear-cut strategy or field credible candidates. Not even in Budapest did they manage to make gains, he said, adding that the centre-left was left behind by Jobbik in several regions. The loss of local positions would pose a tough challenge for the left wing in preparations for the 2018 general election, he said.
“What is at stake for the left wing is no longer crisis management but the prevention of total collapse,” Fodor said.
Political Capital analyst Robert Laszlo said that shrinking turnout indicated “serious voter disillusionment”. Tamas Lanczi, chief analyst at think-tank Szazadveg, said the low turnout may have more to do with exhaustion after two elections this year already — a national and a European parliamentary election.
Photo: MTI – Zoltan Mathe