Haven’t been following it closely, so will refrain from commenting on it myself.
Matt Forney (who is currently living in Hungary) is optimistic on Fidesz/Orban.
Some comments from region expert reiner Tor during the past month:
The most reputable Hungarian analyst thinks Fidesz will win a narrow majority on Sunday. But because of the still many unknowns, he’s unsure, it could be a Fidesz loss (though the opposition will probably be unable to form a government), or in a best case scenario even a supermajority for Fidesz. (Just a list: few and unreliable district level data; questions about “strategic voting,” opposition supporters voting for other opposition parties, especially wrt Jobbik vs. leftists; trends, which have generally been unfavorable towards Fidesz in recent weeks; Fidesz has recently been measured stronger than it really was, whether it still holds; etc.)
Basically, what I wrote recently: difficult to predict, but a narrow Fidesz majority looks most likely, with a Fidesz loss more likely than a supermajority, but even the latter possible.
The Hungarian election seems difficult to predict because there is little openly available detailed precinct level data, and also because it’s difficult to measure second preferences and the likelihood of people voting for candidates other than that of their most preferred parties. It’s also difficult to predict turnout, and the Fidesz victory or its size greatly depends on turnout: basically, the lower the turnout, the higher the portion of the votes going to Fidesz. The most likely guess is still a Fidesz win without winning a supermajority, though there’s always the chance of a Fidesz supermajority and also of a Fidesz loss. The March 15 speech of Orbán threatening some unspecified people with retribution was unhelpful in that it could mobilize the opposition voters. The fact that now there seems to be a chance of beating him will probably also mobilize opposition voters.
It’s a near certainty that the “don’t know” voters will mostly vote for an opposition party. There’s more of them than usual, especially this close to the election (when normally voters already know for sure if they were going to vote, and for whom).
Orbán is good (he seems to have gotten more and more based over the years), but his corruption and his tendency to surround himself with incompetent hacks and sycophants will be his undoing. As I wrote, I still expect him to win this time, but he will no longer get a supermajority.
Regarding immigration, if Jobbik becomes a part of the coalition, then I wouldn’t expect big changes. Even half of leftist voters are against third world immigration. But I’m not sure if the enthusiasm will stay.
Also Orbán is overusing the migration topic in his election campaign, especially whenever his corruption comes up. It only discredits the topic, which I don’t like.
I still hope he’ll manage to change. As you wrote, he is probably the most based white leader of any country.
Jobbik has drifted to the left. It’s now probably to the left of Fidesz, or at least not significantly to the right. Its relations with any of the leftist parties are better than Fidesz. By the way, Orbán tried to make it impossible for them to campaign. So they also hate Orbán now. And they are definitely not less handshakeworthy than Fidesz. They already engaged in talks to the leftist parties. The “new leftist” parties (untainted with governing 2002-10) actually probably like Jobbik more than the socialists or DK (a spinoff party of the socialists with their least popular politicians, somehow still hanging in the National Assembly).
on the assumption that people MUST vote against Orban whoever is available
That has happened in all of the by-elections since 2014. Fidesz lost each of them. I’m not saying it will happen everywhere, but if Fidesz loses over half the districts…
Let me repeat: I still think Fidesz will win this one. But unless they change significantly (and I’m not sure they are capable of that), they will lose badly in 2022. Probably already during the European elections. Even the municipal elections (I think in 2019). It’s possible that they won’t be able to hold onto power until 2022. (And there’s now some chance of them losing already on April 8.)
They have less than half of the voters, and anyone who is not explicitly their voter hates them. Not a good situation, even if you’re the biggest party in the land…
You have to remember he started out as a young, fresh leader. (The name Fidesz originally comes from an abbreviation FIDESZ, which stood for Young Democrats’ Alliance. It was a liberal party in the early 1990s, and until 1992 no new member could be accepted above the age 35…)
His entourage changed a lot since he came to power in 2010. It moved a bit in the alt-right direction, which is to say, it got crankier. Many of his more normal conservative allies left him over the years or started keeping a low profile, while he started to employ stupid lieutenants. Since 2010, but especially since 2014 he really became a Führer of his party, and most people around him were sycophants. He seems to have believed by 2014 that he was an infallible genius, and that it was no longer possible for anyone in Hungary to beat him.
His lieutenants are now either stupid or corrupt or both. He himself is not above all this: his son-in-law started a corrupt scheme in 2010, and was already considered a shady scandal-ridden figure before 2014, but recently new details emerged. It’s possible Hungary will have to pay back some money to the EU (I mean, stealing EU monies when you’re trying to take a stand against them must be stupid…) because of these shady deals. The mayor of his native village became one of the richest people in the country over the past 8 years (he’s a simple gas fitter), and many people now suspect that his wealth actually belongs to Orbán personally. To be honest, it’s not implausible.
A number of scandals rocked his party (some corruption scandals involving his close family members, but not all scandals were corruption related), but the most important thing is that already in 2014 he didn’t have a majority of the votes.
The Hungarian election system since 2014 is a mix of first past the post and (to a smaller extent) proportional representation. (Even the latter favors the winner.) Before Orbán changed it, it had a similar system, but one where the MP districts had a second round, unless someone received the majority of the votes. So parties could run separately and then after the first round of voting they could form an alliance.
Orbán changed the system because he understood that for the opposition (which was divided, even without Jobbik) would need to form an alliance in order to be competitive. However, some of the leftist parties were discredited in the eyes of the majority of the electorate (and the voters of Jobbik and the leftists were often incompatible), and so an alliance would have destroyed a large portion of the appeal of the other leftist parties (not to mention Jobbik).
However, that seems to have changed recently. Moreover, there has been open talk of “cross-voting” even with Jobbik, so in many places the parties won’t even have to form an alliance (which, less than three weeks before the election, they have still failed to do anyway), their voters in each district will be voting for the most popular opposition candidate (and now this seems to include Jobbik), and they are encouraging their voters to do so.
It’s a question how many of the voters will actually do so, but I think the floodgates have opened to some extent already. It’s not exactly encouraging that since 2014 Fidesz has lost all by-elections. They were usually explained away as products of unusual local circumstances, but it’s getting increasingly likely that it will happen in a lot of places.
I still expect Fidesz to win, but not by a large margin.
Though I still expect Orbán to win in April, his odds have considerably worsened in recent weeks. There is now a serious chance of Fidesz not getting a majority. I don’t know what will happen after that. Theoretically there could be a coalition, but now neither a Fidesz-Jobbik, nor a Jobbik-left coalition seems viable. Even the leftist parties seem to hate each other as much as they hate Fidesz.
But I think Orbán will still probably win this time, but it’s likely his last cycle as prime minister.
I don’t think it’s substantially better. Especially not in the long run. Orbán neglects education, which has the side effect of making teachers hate him. Teachers tend to be leftists anyway, but it seems they have become overwhelmingly so in the last few years. High schoolers are now often protesting the government, there have been demonstrations against Orbán by them (nominally about some issues with education, but obviously it was political, including some of the slogans etc.), so it’s probably a mistake which will bear its rotten fruits over the long run.
What I don’t understand is that how Hungary could perform so poorly in football. Orbán threw a lot of money on it (he built a number of shiny stadiums, where the same shitty teams play shitty football…), but it got us nowhere. Apparently Hungarian coaches (including those raising young players) are of very bad quality, stuck in the 1970s or something, and it’s very difficult to change that, since older coaches teach the younger ones. The system is also very corrupt, and by throwing money at it, Orbán only managed to perpetuate it. Players enjoy that now they can stay in Hungary for similar money as they would make in the German second league, but for less work or performance, so they prefer staying at home. Ironically, this might depress the Hungarian national team in the coming years.