Central Europe Activ

After a brief overview of the Hungarian party system, the Socialist and the Liberal candidates, here are the likely winners. The EPP has two member parties in Hungary, and the smaller one just decided (and possibly split) over the issue of its party list.

Hungary’s most popular party is Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union. Fidesz entered the Hungarian parliament in 1990 as ‘Association of Young Democrats’ or Fidesz. The alternative-Liberal youth movement later consolidated into a right-wing party, hence the name Hungarian Civic Union. It had an intake of the three original right-wing parties of the 1990 six-party parliament, and had been on government with two small parties between 1998-2002. Since 2006 it has the largest group of MPs in the national assembly but it failed to build a majority coalition. It has won the previous EP elections, and it is likely to win big again.

Unlike the other parties, Fidesz does not have to play tactical games with its list of candidates. It has a handsome 30% lead over the Socialist Party and thus it is free to nominate anybody. The party is list is full with heavy-weights, which has possibly two causes. One if is that Fidesz started as a youth organization and its major politicians entered the Parliament in 1990 in their early or mid-twenties, so some of their heavy-weight MPs who have been deputies during all their active life are in their mid-40s and eager to learn and try new things. The other cause is that Fidesz’s charismatic president, Mr Orbán, who has been leading the Fidesz parliamentary groups and the government between 1998-2002, does not leave too much career opportunities for his co-founders. (Fidesz never had a chance to have president elected, and Budapest has voted for the same Liberal candidate on each mayoral election).

The likely successful candidates are Mr Pál Schmitt (MEP, head of the current delegation, former contender of Budapest’s mayoral office and head of the Hungarian Olympics Committee), Mr József Szájer (MEP, former vice-president of the party and Fidesz’s first directly elected MP in 1990), Ms Kinga Gál (MEP), Mr János Áder (founder of Fidesz, former speaker of the National Assembly), Mr. László Surján (MEP, a former leader of the small Christian Democratic party), Mr Tamás Deutsch (yet another Fidesz founder, former sports minister), Ms Lívia Jároka (MEP, the first elected Roma woman in the European Parliament, a World Economic Forum Young Leader), 8. Mr. György Schöpflin (MEP, a professor of University College London), Mr András Gyürk (a former leader of Fidesz’s youth association), Mr Csaba ?ry (MEP, and former state secretary in various portfolios), Mr. Béla Glattfelder (MEP, former defence state secretary) and Mr Ádám Kósa.

The list is hardly surprising, probably the youngest party list in Europe, and it is likely to receive well above 50% of the popular vote.

MDF Hungarian Democratic ForumThe smaller right-wing party, MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum) came up with a very surprising list of candidates. MDF had been the first, and largest, patirotic political group in the 1980s and the winner of the first elections in 1990. Later, it became a minor party in the Fidesz-led right-wing government and run on a joint Fidesz-MDF party list which was not re-elected in 2002. In the past 8 years MDF has tried hard to manouvre into a centrist position between the two blocs. Under very heavy criticism from the right-wing it managed to send get one seat in the EP in 2004 and successfully, albeit very narrowly meat the 5% national election treshold. MDF has successfully re-branded itself as middle-class, pro-business, rule of law moderate right-wing party. It is the only party that can claim that it had opposed all social benefit rises that has brough Hungary to the brink of bankrupcy.

MDF has successfully gained voters from the left-wing and the Liberals, and maintained some of its original, mainly rural patriotic core base. However, the change of direction culimanated in a deep internal fight when the leaders of the party has chosen Mr Lajos Borkos and Mr György Habsburg as the two for-runners of the MDF list. Mr Lajos Bokros is a former technocratic finance minister in the 1994-1998 Socialist-Liberal coaltion, who was the most loathed politician in the 1990s with his Hayekism and brutal fiscal austeriety measure. When the national budget exploded in the 2000s and voters realized that popular messages bite into their pockets in the long run he has re-eastablished himself as a credible technocrat, a kind of a doctor with bitter pills that are more effective than the sweets offered by big parties. His suprise nomination might undermine the Liberal list. Mr Bokros is a diehard liberal, a favorite among many Liberal voters, who the Liberal party never dared to support due to former hatred towards him. (The ‘old’ MDF of the 90s also treated him as the devil himself, no wonder, that some old politicians of the party started to give back their membership in the past week).

Mr György Habsburg is another atipical choice. He is the son of Otto von Habsburg, MEP, the last heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, who, like unemployed monarchs, had a colorful life. The Habsburgs have a very bad name in the traditional Hungarian patriotic right-wing, but they have small followship among nostalgists of either the aristocracy or the old cosmopolitan Budapest. The young archduke has been a Hungarian citizen since 1994, and he has a lot of given names. (He has a lot of titles, too, but he cannot use them legally in Hungary due to an act from the earlier republic back in 1947). Certainly, if the purpose of his run is to boost name-recognition on the list MDF will benefit from it.

There is a Hungarian Civic Party in Romania, too, which is a Fidesz-friendly breakaway political movement from the Romanian Hungarian party. In the last interim elections they managed to have elected Bishop László T?kés who became an independent after the outcry from Romanian EPP delegation’s side. This year the two Hungarian parties are running a joint list, and they have a chance to have two persons elected in Romania who will be very close to Fidesz.

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