A by-election was held on Sunday in Budapest’s 4th district to fill the parliamentary seat vacated by the death of Péter Kiss, Socialist MP. Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) candidate Imre Horváth got a little more than 50% of the vote, while Fidesz’s Antal Hollósi was only able to secure 30%, with a surprising decrease in the activity of the governing party’s electorate. Voter turnout was much lower than in April’s general election, a factor newspapers noted did not favor Fidesz for the first time since 2010.
The upcoming Veszprém by-election on February 22 will decide whether Fidesz can keep its second two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Sunday’s election was held in the wake of a controversial Hungarian state budget bill for 2015 and after plans to introduce a tax on internet use caused tens of thousands of Hungarians to take to the streets in recurring waves of protest.
Recent opinion polls show that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s governing Fidesz-KDNP coalition has lost about 5% among all voters and 7% among party voters since municipal elections in October. Ipsos’s findings, however, do not show an increase in support for opposition parties, as the majority of Fidesz voters seem to have joined the growing camp of undecided voters.
Socialist party leader József Tóbiás reacted to Sunday’s result by stating that it “was about much more than Újpest. […] We successfully proved that Fidesz can be defeated in elections, even though we were running alone.” Tóbiás was referring to the fact that Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition and Together-PM declined to endorse Horváth’s candidacy. Horváth served as a border guard during the Kádár communist era and was accused by Fidesz of somehow being “associated with the KGB”.
Fidesz said the defeat was “anticipated.” VS.hu cites undisclosed Fidesz sources as saying there is growing concern among the party leadership in light of recent protests and Sunday’s disappointing result.
As Tibor Navracsics has been pointed European Commissioner for Youth and Education, a by-election to fill his vacated parliamentary seat will be held on February 22. A loss there would deprive Fidesz of its two-thirds parliamentary majority.
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