The Country For All Movement will fundraise to conduct opinion polls in all of Hungary’s 106 electoral districts in an effort to discern which candidates have the best chance of defeating Fidesz, civil-turned-political activist Márton Gulyás announced on Saturday.
Gulyás spoke at an opposition congress organized by Country For All to bring together civil society activists and political parties. He vowed to help candidates with the most potential to defeat Fidesz, implying that his liberal organization is willing to campaign on behalf of far-right Jobbik candidates as well.
Hungary has a mixed voting system, whereby members of parliament are elected partly through proportional, nation-wide party lists and partly through races in 106 individual districts.
“This is not a little money,” Gulyás told a standing-room only crowd in Budapest’s seventh district, adding that just a single 1,000-participant opinion poll would cost some HUF 2 million (USD 7,500). “This will be Hungary’s largest communally-funded campaign […] But we don’t have another chance,” he said.
Gulyás’s announcement signaled that the activist and his followers do not trust political parties on their own to run an effective, united campaign against Fidesz, and are thus trying to give voters options.
Nevertheless, speakers at the congress included Democratic Coalition leader and former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who called for opposition parties to come together.
“I think that MSZP, DK, Együtt [Together], and Párbeszéd [Dialogue for Hungary] will come to an agreement,” Gyurcsány said.
“We broke the myth of Fidesz’s invincibility,” he said, arguing that opposition parties are in agreement on key policy issues and voters are willing to put differences aside to defeat Fidesz.
While other politicians also highlighted commonalities on policy issues, some tried to distance themselves from left-wing governments of the past.
“Voters in 2010 wanted something different,” Gergely Karácsony, who represented Párbeszéd and Együtt, told the audience, reminding them that many of the policy problems discussed did not begin only after Fidesz came to power. “We need to commonly put together a new worldview, a new proposal, a new vision,” he said.
Representatives of civil society groups – from teachers’ group Tanítanék (I Would Teach) to homeless advocacy organization The City is For All (A Város Mindenkié) and think-tank Eötvös Károly Policy Institute – also presented policy platforms at the opposition congress.
While the policy platforms on anti-corruption efforts and the media largely focused on rule of law matters and independent institutions, presentations of platforms on agrarian policy and workplace issues took a populist turn, calling for a ban on land sales to foreigners and railing against multinationals. Similarly, the homeless advocacy group raised concerns about the impact of AirBNB, which largely caters to foreign tourists, on rent prices.
Momentum, Politics Can Be Different (LMP) and Jobbik did not send representatives to the event.