Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: MTI

OSCE: Hungary elections well-run but did not offer level playing field

Analysts: Fidesz-KDNP score ‘historic win’

A "historic win" is how analysts at an event held by the Nezopont Institute on Monday called the results of Fidesz-Christian Democrats under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Sunday's election outcome reflected the desire of voters "to confirm the government and replace the opposition", they said, though the prime minister was the real focus of the election, they added.

Strategic director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights, Istvan Kovacs, said the election system had played “no part whatsoever” in the popularity of Fidesz-led alliance, adding that even Peter Marki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, had conceded on Sunday evening that Fidesz would have won a substantial majority of the vote regardless of the election system in place. “We can’t pinpoint the election system when we’re looking for the reason why Fidesz secured a fourth term,” he said.

Kovacs also rejected criticism of vote counting committees, noting that the opposition had sent delegates to every constituency while, the Open Society Foundations had “more election observers than they send to a banana republic”. “There were no abuses committed on either side that would have had any discernible effect on the outcome,” he said.

“Sunday’s outcome was decided under clean and fair conditions,” Kovacs added.

He said the election system had “functioned perfectly”, adding this meant that Hungary’s next parliament and prime minister would have “very strong legitimacy”.

Rather it was the prime ministerial candidates that were the diecisive factor in the performance gap between the two sides, Kovacs said, arguing that not a single survey indicated that the war in Ukraine was the singular factor behind Fidesz’s victory.

He said Marki-Zay’s shortcomings as a PM candidate had quickly come to the surface after he clinched the opposition nomination. “He’s not actually a category A politician,” Kovacs said of Marki-Zay. “His qualities were far weaker than what the left had expected of him.”

Nezopont Institute director Agoston Mraz said that never before had a government received such a strong mandate by voters in a democratic election in Hungary.

Mraz noted that the opposition had captured 35 percent of the vote, down from 45 percent in 2010, adding that the opposition had lost three out of every ten voters compared with 2018.

He said he believed opposition voters had not wanted to see Marki-Zay as prime minister, while voters who were not Fidesz supporters but had been satisfied with Orbán’s performance ultimately ended up voting for the ruling parties.

Mraz said the opposition’s strategy of fielding a single candidate in each individual constituency had only worked in Budapest.

However, the opposition Democratic Coalition and Momentum parties could be satisfied with their results, he said, noting that while the former had increased its number of parliamentary seats from 9 to 16, the latter would enter parliament for the first time with 11 seats. He said conservative Jobbik and green LMP were the biggest losers of the election, noting that Jobbik had lost 17 seats, while LMP may not even be able to form a parliamentary group.

Szazadveg Foundation vice president Zsolt Barthel-Ruzsa said he had shared other analysts’ view that Sunday’s ballot was a referendum on the prime minister.

He branded Jobbik’s attempt to become a people’s party “a failure”. Meanwhile, the united opposition’s list had been “blown apart”, he said. Barthel-Ruzsa added that the far right had “found a home” in the radical Mi Hazank party, which entered parliament for the first time. “It is the opposition that has been replaced,” he said.

OSCE: Hungary elections well-run but did not offer level playing field

Hungary’s parliamentary elections were well-run but the electoral process was marred by the absence of a level playing field, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Monday.

Candidates were largely able to campaign freely but the tone of the campaign was negative, OSCE election and referendum monitor Kari Henriksen told a press conference assessing the ballot.

Mark Pritchard, head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s delegation, said the election had been organised successfully but showed many shortcomings, with numerous prior recommendations made by the organisation yet to be addressed.

Jillian Stark, head of the election observation mission deployed by OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said the election had been overshadowed by a blurring of the line between the ruling parties and the state.

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