Two polls are making headlines in Hungary. One of them examines perceptions of government-sanctioned corruption, while the other one explores the popularity of Hungary’s political parties. The results of the two polls, when explored side-by-side, are paradoxical.
Medián’s poll, released today, shows that fully two-thirds of all Hungarians feel that corruption is “very” characteristic of the ruling Fidesz party. In fact, even among diehard Fidesz supporters, a third feel that the Orbán government is corrupt. Equally important is the finding that 60% of respondents noted that corruption in Hungary was “directed from the top” echelons of powers. This is important because there have been some within the government’s camp who have wanted to believe that while certain players are evidently corrupt (such as filmmaker and casino oligarch Andy Vajna, former district mayor Antal Rogán, the nouveau riche mayor of Viktor Orbán’s hometown, Lőrinc Mészáros, or the prime minister’s shady adviser and media mogul Árpád Habony, the prime minister himself is squeaky clean and is, at worst, blind to the corruption around him. The Medián poll suggests that a large majority of Hungarians believe that corruption is directed from the highest offices of power.
The poll also shows that corruption should be a major election theme in the run-up to the 2018 campaign for Hungary’s opposition parties, as this–alongside concerns about the state of public health care–are the two issues that are most important to “average” voters.
Fidesz, however, maintains that there is no systemic corruption in Hungary. This past weekend, Lajos Kósa, the Leader of the Fidesz parliamentary group self-confidently declared:
“I can say with ease, that since 2010 this government has done the most to eliminate systemic corruption.” He then added that there are only a handful of isolated examples of corruption remaining.
“At the systemic level, we have eliminated corruption,” added Mr. Kósa.
Hungarian voters feel differently, yet when it comes to the popularity of the country’s political parties, not only does Fidesz remain far in the lead, but the governing party has actually increased its level of support. The polling firm Tárki released its most recent opinion poll on Wednesday and concluded that both Fidesz and Jobbik have seen an increase in their popularity, while the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) has lost support. Compared to the last poll conducted in late April, Fidesz has seen its support grow by 3% among respondents, and now stands at 30%. Jobbik also saw its popularity rise by 3%, with the party now standing at 14%. MSZP, by contrast, is down from 10% to a dismal 8%. The liberal-centrist Democratic Coalition (DK) remains at 5% (unchanged since April) and the Politics Can Be Different green party (Lehet Más a Politika – LMP) is at 3%. The centrist Együtt (Together) party remains at just 1%. Undecided voters stand at 38%.
As such, Parliament’s two far right-wing parties (Fidesz-Jobbik) have a combined 44% in support, while the four left-centre parties (some of whom balk at the idea of electoral cooperation) are at just 17%. While there is a reasonable chance that some of the 38% in undecided voters are actually opposition sympathizers who are fearful of revealing themselves to pollsters–especially in light of the Medián poll’s grim findings on what Hungarians think about corruption–it is more likely that the bulk of this pool of undecided Hungarians will never make it to the election booth to begin with, and are politically passive or uninterested.