European Interest

Hungary’s PM loses first popularity test

Flickr/European People's Party/CC BY 2.0
Local elections in Hodmezovasarhely a popularity test for Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party suffered a shock defeat in a mayoral election widely viewed as a popularity test for Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The southern town of Hodmezovasarhely was considered a Fidesz stronghold.

Peter Marki-Zay won 57.5%, against 41.5% for Fidesz.

As reported by the BBC, opinion polls suggested that the general election would be won easily by Fidesz. But now the diverse opposition sees a chance to topple Fidesz. This, however, would, assume a degree of co-operation and trust between them which has been largely lacking until now.

In the last election in 2014, Fidesz won 96 of the 106 individual constituencies, even though the combined opposition vote was 52%, compared to 44% for Fidesz.

In a separate report, Bloomberg noted that beyond the result in Hodmezovasarhely, the margin of victory was also a surprise as independent candidate Peter Marki-Zay got 58% of the vote to 42% for Fidesz’s Zoltan Hegedus amid a record 62% turnout, according to preliminary results with all of the ballots counted.

Support for the opposition’s nominee surged, even as the government candidate received roughly the same number of votes as in previous elections, highlighting the risks of Orban’s strategy of rallying his loyal base.

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