Hungary's Controversial Elections: They Think It's All Over – Well, It Is Now!*
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
One week on, the National Election Office has this morning posted the final results. After a couple of last minute twists and turns, these leave Fidesz still well ahead with 135 seats, in the 199 seat parliament. That's a 67.84% parliamentary "super majority" from 54.10% of the list vote.
Image: The state of play at 07.57 on Sunday morning. With 100% of votes counted and countless bits of arithmetic, Fidesz will dominate the new parliament with 135 seats. The opposition alliance have 57, Our Homeland (Mi Hazánk - radical right) slip to 6 (all list) seats, and the ethnic German minority hold one. Source: National Election Offce.
True, ultimately little has changed since the count on the night of April 3. However, the opposition alliance can take some consolation, with their candidate, Zoltán Vajda overturning Fidesz's 38-vote lead in Budapest XVI district – a result of support from expatriate Magyars voting at embassies and consulates abroad.
The alliance also won an extra seat from the list vote, which I believe has to have resulted from higher support in the expatriate Magyar vote.
Meanwhile Fidesz recovered a seat on the list vote by edging out the last nominee on Our Homeland party list, a final twist almost certainly down to the overwhelming vote for Fidesz from ethnic Magyars with no registered address in Hungary, of whom 94% put in the cross beside the governing party's name,
The final count means Fidesz won a staggering 86 of the 88 single constituencies outside the capital, leaving the opposition alliance with just two – in Szeged and Pécs.
In contrast, the alliance almost swept the board in Budapest, winning 17 of 18 electoral districts, the sole Fidesz victory being in District XVII (Rákosmente) where Mónika Dunai defeated György Szilágyi, the Jobbik candidate representing the opposition.
This contest represents an intriguing case study, perfectly illustrating the disastrous effect (from an opposition viewpoint) of the 'protest' Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP), along with other alternative candidates.
This is helpfully aided by the National Election Office, which has published a list of the most closely fought seats.
And guess what? Rákosmente, where Mónika Dunai polled 25,114 votes versus György Szilágyi with 24,733 - a majority of just 381 - is at number 1 on that list.
Image: The breakdown of votes in Budapest XVII district. (Note, this corresponds to the electoral seat Budapest 14, as there are only 18 constituencies in the capital.)
Of the smaller contestants, the MKKP's Richard Szin (yes, really – perhaps the linguistic pun is intended) won 2,172 votes, while the Solutions Movement and Normal Party hit 875 and 339 respectively.
True, many analysts believe latter two parties were 'fake' groupings set up with Fidesz support to split the vote - which they successfully did.
But the MKKP, founded as a spoof grouping, has metamorphosed into an opposition alternative spoiling party. Its candidates and supporters can experience intellectual delight in mocking Fidesz (often justifiably and very effectively), but the end result, as here, is effectively mocking the electoral process - and results in victory for Fidesz.
MKKP supporters certainly belong on the opposition side, and had the party pulled out of this contest, I reckon the odds are that at least 382 (18%) of its 2,172 voters would have opted for, and given victory to, the opposition alliance.
Two-tail doggers may wag their forked tails for all they are worth, but to what effect? As in each of the past four elections, this year Fidesz has won a super-majority in parliament by successfully splitting the opposition vote.
So the 2022 elections are over. The OSCE (Organisation of Cooperation and Security in Europe) deployed (and paid) a record 312 observers and stated:
“Hungary’s parliamentary elections offered voters distinct alternatives and were well run, but while competitive, the process was marred by the pervasive overlapping of government and ruling coalition’s messaging that blurred the line between state and party, as well as by media bias and opaque campaign funding.”
Well, I'm not quite sure how anyone can say elections were “well run” and then come up with the stuff that followed – that sounds an oxymoron to me.
Furthermore, after ruling that the elections in 2014 and 2018 were “free but not fair”, the mealy mouthed OSCE panel at Monday's press conference, in their convoluted effort to call a spade a “manually operated excavating implement” declined to be so bold this time around – implying, in effect that the electoral conditions, media and campaign financing had somehow improved in the past four years.
(For the entire OSCE statement, which is damning, except it doesn't damn, see here
And so the show goes on. At least three friends have written to me to say their offspring, all universit graduates, are now looking to move abroad. As one wrote:
“[Name] is so pissed off about the election that he is going to live in Rome for a month as a trial run for living there permanently. I think a lot of young people are giving up on Hungary now. It always seemed ironic that when Fidesz were going on about immigration it was emigration that was the real problem.”
I suppose the upside to that is at least the expatriate Magyar vote - and the final count twists and turns - should be bigger in four year's time.
* Magyar and youthful Readers will, I trust, forgive a little ageing, cultural bias in this headline, based as it is on a famous (at least in the UK) quote from a BBC reporter commenting in the last seconds of the football World Cup final between England and Germany at Wembley, London, in 1966.