Hungary’s election is tight, but Fidesz has the edge

Hungarians go to the polls Sunday, April 3rd (with advance voting on April 2nd for the diaspora in North America) to decide the fate the Orbán regime, in power since 2010. A poll released this week shows a tight race between the two leading party slates: Fidesz-KDNP and the United for Hungary (Egységben Magyarországért) rainbow coalition of opposition parties. Závecz Research released figures for its opinion poll conducted between March 21-27. In it, Fidesz has a 3 percent lead over prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay’s United for Hungary. That lead falls within the margin error. As well, essentially the same proportion of Hungarians want Fidesz to stay in power as those seeking a change in government (44 percent preferring a continuation of Fidesz versus 42 percent wanting Mr. Orbán removed from office).

Závecz Research found the following levels of support in its latest poll:

  • Fidesz-KDNP: 39%
  • United for Hungary: 36%
  • Mi Hazánk: 3%
  • Two-Tailed Dog Party: 2%
  • Other: 1
  • No preference/did not disclose: 19%

According to Závecz Research, Fidesz has a solid core of 1.9 million voters. In contrast, United for Hungary’s core voting base stands at 1.7 million Hungarians. There are about 600,000 Hungarian voters who plan to cast a ballot, but are still undecided. Fidesz would need to mobilize 100,000 to 150,000 passive voters on Sunday, while the opposition needs to mobilize 200,000 to 250,000. All that said, mobilization is absolutely key — and this is an area where Fidesz has an advantage. Part of that advantage has to do with effectively buying off voters — sometimes by handing out free potatoes and cooking oil, and other times by making it known to the population in grander ways that loyalty pays and disloyalty is costly.

While Závecz suggests that the election is too close to call, another major and reputable polling firm — Medián — is predicting a Fidesz victory on Sunday. Looking at the pool of decided voters only, the party or party coalition standings are the following:

  • Fidesz-KDNP: 50%
  • United for Hungary: 40%
  • Mi Hazánk: 4%
  • Two-Tailed Dog Party: 4%

Medián believes that Fidesz’s lead is insurmountable this late in the campaign. The fear stoked by Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine and Mr. Orbán’s crass pragmatism — essentially giving Russian dictator Vladimir Putin a pass for the murder of Ukrainians and claiming that by doing so, he is protecting Hungary from war — has resonated with segments of the voting public and has given him a measurable boost in the polls.

HFP’s editor receives his ballot. Photo: C. Adam.

And Mr. Orbán has another not insignificant advantage in what may likely be a close race — especially if Závecz Research is correct. There are a total of 450,000 Hungarians in the diaspora who have the right to vote by mail-in ballot for a party list. The proportion of Fidesz supporters in this voting pool, especially among 193,000 ethnic Hungarians from Romania, is overwhelmingly high. In practice, however, many voters in North America will not be able to mail their ballot back in time, as they arrived only this week by mail.  Hungarian diplomats stationed in Canada, for instance, have instructed voters not to mail their ballot, but to drop it off at Hungarian missions in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on Saturday, April 2, 2022 between 6:00 a.m.  and 7:00 p.m. local time.  I know what I’m doing and where I’m going on Saturday, April 2, 2022.


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