The ruling centre-right Fidesz party has a good chance of winning a second consecutive two-thirds majority at the parliamentary election on 6 April, according to the leaders of the major opinion research institutes. They came to this conclusion at their professional convention, organised by the Foundation for Political History in Budapest last week, basing their conclusions on the results of recent opinion polls.
Medián and Ipsos agreed that Fidesz will be able to reach an overwhelming majority in the new legislation period. As Medián Opinion Research Institute leader
Endre Hann put it, “based on the current surveys” a two-thirds majority for Fidesz is “sure”. According to Tibor Závecz, the director of Ipsos Opinion Research Institute, we can expect a two-thirds majority for Fidesz if the governing party scores more than ten per cent higher than the party taking second place. Závecz pointed out that the surveys conducted in February proved Fidesz has at least a nine per cent advantage.
He said that according to the current surveys Fidesz sympathisers are the most active (63%), followed by the supporters of the left (53%) and those of the right radical Jobbik party (52%). According to the most recent Ipsos questionnaire, Fidesz has the most electors who will participate at the elections for sure (51%). The left electoral alliance “Governmental Change” (previously “Unity”) has 33% of the electors in this group, Jobbik has 13% and the green party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) 2%. However, if only those people participated in the election who said they surely would, the total participation rate would end up at only 36%.
Left would benefit from high participation rate
If we take into account those party supporters who were not sure at the time of the survey whether they would vote or not, the participation rate would be 61%. In this case Fidesz would earn 47% of the votes, the left electoral alliance 35%, Jobbik 14% and LMP 2%. The conclusion: the higher the participation rate at the election, the smaller the difference will be between Fidesz and the unified left parties led by Hungarian Socialist Party leader Attila Mesterházy.
Závecz indicated that the number of those voters who have a party preference has reduced in the total population if we compare the situation four years ago. While in 2010 the pollster had to ask only 2,500 to 3,000 people in order to get at least 1,000 valuable answers, recently they had to ask 4,000 to 4,500 people for the same result, he said. The same is true for the surveys conducted by phone. In order to get 1,000 valid answers, the researchers had to contact 5,000 to 6,000 electors. In 2010 only 3,500 to 4,000 calls were necessary to achieve the same result, Závecz said.
Hungarians abroad will play only minor role
In respect to the party preference of the Hungarians living abroad, the Ipsos director noted that they will decide only one or two parliamentary seats. According to Závecz, we can already count these “foreign” votes as votes for Fidesz. He said there were no surveys conducted among the Hungarians living abroad because it was simply not worth the effort. Recently the government announced that 150,000 citizens living abroad have registered to vote so far. The final number is expected to be 180,000 to 200,000.
According to the Medián surveys, 57% of the Hungarian eligible voters will surely participate at the elections. Hann emphasised that this is quite high only one month before election day. He recalled that the intention to participate was quite low during the current legislative period; only in the last two to three months have we seen a trend of large growth. As a reminder: at the parliamentary elections in 2006 the participation rate was higher than 67%, in 2010 it was just over 64%. Both figures are for the first election round; this year there will be only one round.
Radical Jobbik could earn a strong last place
The latest Medián survey concluded that Fidesz will have 36% of the votes, the left electoral alliance 23% and Jobbik 14%. What is immediately noticeable here is that Jobbik gained 4% in only one month. The radical right party has scored so highly only once before, two years ago, Hann said. On the chances of LMP making it into Parliament, Hann said he can give no prognosis. Although the party always scored less than 5% in surveys, it could not be ruled out that they would still get into Parliament.
Hann said the number of those voters longing for a change of government increased between January and February. While every second person asked spoke up for a governmental change, 40% wanted Viktor Orbán’s government to remain. Fifty-three per cent of these “protest voters” wanted to vote for the left parties and 26% for Jobbik. He said the left alliance had hardly changed the party preference of the opposition.
Hann commented on the controversial statement by Mesterházy, who said that some of the supporters of the left alliance had presented themselves to researchers as Fidesz voters but at the election they would still vote for the left. This statement was “extremely counter-productive”, Hann said. “What is the morality of a politician like, who asks his supporters to lie?”
The most active voters are against governmental change
Endre Sík, senior colleague at Tárki, said those voters who feel that their situation improved in the past four years and therefore do not want a change will be the most likely to participate. Similar to the results of Medián and Ipsos, the latest Tárki poll also shows that Fidesz is far ahead. If the election was held today, Fidesz would score 38% in the total population of eligible voters and 49% among voters with a fixed party preference. “Governmental Change” would get 21% among the total population of eligible voters and 27% of the voters with fixed party preference. Jobbik would get 15% and 19%, and LMP 4% and 6%.