Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona (left) personally visited 44 settlements in the lead-up to the Tapolca by-election.
Two journalists working for Hungarian news website Index.hu published a piece on Monday detailing their experiences covering the by-election held in Veszprém’s 3rd electoral district, more commonly referred to as the “Tapolca by-election”.
Szabolcs Panyi and Tamás Német drove down to the town of Tapolca on Saturday night to report on the election taking place the following day.
Upon arrival, the two reporters set out for a walk to get a lay of the land and see how locals felt about the upcoming election. They were left with the impression that the by-election could be boiled down to the fact that Lajos Rig looks like an average guy, was Jobbik’s candidate and hails from the town of Tapolca.
“The people of Tapolca want the same thing that people in Újpest, Debrecen and Szeged also generally want–to be represented by someone from the local community,” was a general comment. “They want someone they know, someone who belongs to their community, someone they can trust will actually work in their interest.”
Panyi and Német report that a number of Fidesz supporters refused to support the Fidesz candidate simply because he is originally from Várpalota where he works as a school administrator.
Jobbik’s “secret weapon”
Jobbik president Gábor Vona told the journalists he had been canvassing eight to ten settlements a day since Tuesday, and had visited 44 of the area’s 60 settlements in under a week. Vona said Jobbik’s campaign relied heavily on quietly visiting as many settlements as possible and directly engaging with voters.
Jobbik’s tactic paid off, especially compared to Fidesz’s campaign visits that relied heavily on mobilizing a large number of non-local activists. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to the region the day before the election was trolled by Szolidaritás hecklers. When all was said and done, Jobbik’s campaign was effective because it even drew on Fidesz’s own voter base. This is clearly seen by comparing the by-election results with the results of last year’s general election.
Campaigning is like evangelizing
The Index.hu article closes with a quote from an unnamed source who reportedly worked as a government official during the second Orban government (2010-14):
“Campaigning is like evangelizing. The souls that win are those which really believe, are patient and work accordingly. Fidesz has lost its soul and there’s no way to reverse that.”
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