Hungary 2010

The first round of the Hungarian parliamentary elections were held yesterday. This first round allocated all 152 seats elected through proportional representation on the basis of votes in Hungary’s 20 regional constituencies. The first round in 176 single-member constituencies was also held. To be elected by the first round, a candidate requires 50% of the vote with a turnout superior to 50%. If no candidate meets this requirement, a runoff is held between all those candidates polling over 15%. 119 of the 176 single-member constituencies were filled by the first round, therefore the runoff will only concern 57 seats. 58 additional seats, called the national seats, will be allocated to compensate parties whose popular vote is inferior to their percentage of seats overall. These national seats are not elected directly per se.

Turnout was 64.38% overall. Here are the results. The map below shows results by single-member constituency. I’m not sure what these percentages refer to, but I assume it’s some amalgamation of the list vote and the ‘direct vote’ if you will.

Fidesz 52.71% (+10.68%) winning 206 seats (119 + 58)
MSZP 19.29% (-23.92%) winning 28 seats
Jobbik 16.66% (+14.46%) winning 26 seats (+26)
LMP 7.48% (new) winning 5 seats (+5)
MDF 2.67% (-2.37%) winning 0 seats (-11)
Others 1.19%

    Fidesz wins a strong result by the first round, but does fall far from the 60% of the popular vote predicted by most pollsters, mostly to the narrow benefit of the MSZP and somewhat in favour of Jobbik and the Greens (LMP). They have a lead in all regions and all but one constituency in the direct vote (only a working-class Budapest constituency, red on the above map, escapes its reach), and they are favoured in a majority of runoffs in these direct seats. On these figures, it seems that Fidesz could manage to get a two-thirds majority, but only just. The Greens (LMP), with around 7.5% of the vote, do better than what pollsters had given them (5-6%) and enter Parliament.  It is remarkable that such a young party with little major media coverage and so forth can enter Parliament, but the collapse of the MSZP and SZDSZ allows for those major gains. Jobbik, unlike in the Euros, was not massively understated, showing that it’s become acceptable to be an open Jobbik supporter with pollsters, largely because the party is more established since the Euros, when it still was rather unknown. Jobbik’s polling gains, from 2% to 16%, are in fact recent, from the start of the troubles in financeland more than the 2006 lies scandal. Yet, Jobbik also polls slightly better than in 2009 (14.77%), while Fidesz polls considerably worse (56.36% in 2009) while MSZP polls slightly better than in 2009, when it polled 17.37%. MDF loses all seats, as does SZDSZ, both parties being the key parties of the immediate period following the fall of communism in Hungary. It certainly represents the end of an era, and the disappearance of SZDSZ also represents a major backlash against moderate, liberal and internationalist parties in favour of more nationalist parties (Fidesz is slightly nationalistic on a few themes, but obviously Jobbik is the main nationalist party).

    MSZP is strongly favoured in perhaps one constituency (Budapest 20), where the runoff will oppose it to Fidesz only. It does best in Budapest, with 25.33% and also in Komárom County with 23.39% (I think there is some mining industry there of some sort). They also do well in the southern working-class city of Szeged, near the Serbian border. Jobbik does best in the counties with the highest Roma population, with 27.2% in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén which is the county with the largest Roma population in Hungary, around 7% or so in all. Its results there and in surrounding areas goes up to 30% or so. Gábor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, got 26% running in Heves-3, qualified for the runoff. It will be interesting to look at the runoffs in those constituencies, but also in those where the Greens and Jobbik are out by the first round to judge how their voters go between MSZP and Fidesz. Unsurprisingly the Greenies do best in Budapest with 12.81% and ahead of Jobbik (only 10.8% there, where the MDF wins its best result with 4.7%). In downtown Budapest (Budapest 9), the Greenies win up to 17% or so.

    The 58 national seats in the runoff should equalize things a bit in favour of the LMP especially but also MSZP and Jobbik who remain slightly under-represented by the current seat allocation.

    As always, and especially for Fidesz in this case, the easy part is over, the hard part is succeeding in government (and given how all but one government in Hungary since 1990 have failed to win re-election). Fidesz made little promises, and they campaigned largely on what can be seen as vote-winning sound bites but are in reality hard to implement (creation of 1 million jobs). Furthermore, with Hungary’s economy still in poor state, Fidesz will need to win further support from foreign lenders and investors, but at the same time it must be careful of not playing against strong nationalist aspirations at home (as well as attachment to costly social programs).

    Posted on April 13, 2010, in Hungary. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

    1. What are the rules for the runoff? Are there any three-cornered contests?

    2. The rules for the runoff are all candidates above 15% (if turnout is above 50% – I assume it is everywhere). I would guess a majority of races in the runoff now are three-ways.

    3. Damn it, another far-right party rising in Europe…

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