The ruling right wing Fidesz party won a resounding victory in nationwide municipal elections on Sunday 12th October 2014, cementing prime minister Viktor Orban’s position as Hungary’s most dominant political force since the system change. Fidesz won the mayoralties in all but one of the 10 largest cities, including the capital Budapest, where it now controls 17 out of 23 districts.
A coalition of leftwing opposition parties struggled to maintain its representation and was relegated to third place in some cities; it could
manage to win only one major city – Szeged – and lost city council seats in Budapest. Although the far right party Jobbik polled as high as 20% in parts of Hungary’s northeast, it failed to come first in any major city.
Pollsters and political analysts had expected Jobbik to perform well in rural areas. In the end the party came second in 17 out of 19 counties and won in 9 towns, up from 3 in 2010. In Budapest, as expected, it failed to make a breakthrough.
Gabor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, said his party had notched up a significant achievement in the local elections, adding he trusted that in the 2018 general election voters would have a choice between Fidesz and Jobbik. He said that Fidesz’s “two-thirds majority will not last forever,” and so Jobbik would start preparing for government.
In the run up to the national, EU and local elections Jobbik has been using a more moderate tone. Polls showed that while Jobbik’s supporters were by far more anti-Roma than the average, their racism has receded over the past year, probably as a result of the more moderate language adopted by their leaders. The softening of rhetoric is not just a tactical weapon, but reflects a change in Jobbik’s social background. While originally Jobbik recruited its supporters among the low wage earners or hopelessly unemployed people, typical supporters today are relatively educated ones earning above the average wage but fearful of losing their status. Some of Jobbik’s slogans are meant to win over left-wing voters, and that its earlier shift towards a more moderate position has been deemed fruitful by its leaders.
Budapest, 13th October 2014