Half of Hungarians want a change in government, but all hope appears lost in 2018

While a Publicus poll out this Sunday found that 54% of Hungarians want to bring an end to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s rule, the dysfunctional and splintered opposition is further from achieving a change in government than ever before in the last seven years. Among all voters, Fidesz support stands at 27%, with Jobbik in a distant second place at 10%. The Hungarian Socialist Party, despite a politically disastrous autumn, is down by only 1% and now stands at 9%, while the Politics Can Be Different green party stands at 5%. The only other party to possibly surpass the minimum threshold for parliamentary representation is the Democratic Coalition, with 4% support. (When only decided voters are taken into account, DK stands at 5%–the threshold to enter parliament.)

Publicus poll for November 2017.

Overall, Fidesz expanded its support in November by 1%, as did the Democratic Coalition. Meanwhile MSZP lost 1%, while Jobbik and LMP both remain unchanged.

A total of 39% of respondents added that they believe the opposition should field an independent candidate for prime minister, who is not attached to any political party and comes with relevant professional and civil society experience. Of all parties, it is voters from MSZP who are the most supportive of fielding an independent candidate for prime minister who is not a traditional politician (51%). But perhaps the most critical finding from the poll is this: 42% of Hungarian voters can see themselves supporting an independent candidate for prime minister fielded by the left. Of course, in the Hungarian parliamentary system, one does not vote directly for a prime minister, but rather for party lists and individual MPs. Yet this number shows a willingness among Hungarian voters to coalesce around the left, if it finds its voice and a candidate that it can rally around.

The poll had another critical finding: 61% of respondents indicated that it was in Hungary’s national interest to have firm cooperation among left-wing and liberal parties. Fully 95% of MSZP voters would agree, as well as 65% of Jobbik voters and indeed 50% of Fidesz supporters too.

Despite a fairly clear consensus that the splintered left-centre opposition must enter into a partnership for the sake of the nation, there is no indication that any such alliance (beyond very loose cooperation at the constituency level between MSZP and DK) will be established before national elections in April 2018.

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