Veszprém is burning with electoral fever. On February 22 there will be a by-election to replace Tibor Navracsics, of ruling party Fidesz, who left the seat after being appointed European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
There is much at stake. If an opposition candidate can capture the seat, Fidesz would lose its two-thirds parliamentary majority. Until last week the right-wing party had 132 of the 199 seats, with the number of sitting MPs on 198 after Navracics’s departure, leaving Fidesz’s majority on the brink. The death of Fidesz MP Jenő Lasztovicza from cancer last week has reduced the number of sitting MPs to 197, leaving Fidesz one short of its two-thirds majority and requiring another, later, by-election.
The “super-majority“ has allowed the government, now in its second term, to ride roughshod over the opposition and the populace and rewrite the Constitution and many laws, some of them “cardinal laws“‘ that will, in turn, require a two-thirds majority to be amended.
The electoral campaign in Veszprém might be enriched with a spicy note if the powerful and influential multi-billionaire Lajos Simicska decides to stand, as he suggested towards the end of last year. The powerful “oligarch“ used to be a close friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán but now is one of his most dangerous enemies.
For Simicska it would be a personal victory over Orbán if he could take away Fidesz’s two-thirds majority. Left-liberal daily newspaper Népszabadság, citing an anonymous source from the ranks of Fidesz, says Simicska is a non-starter. The man himself has not made any official statement so far. Thus anything can still happen.
Fidesz’s candidate in Veszprém is Lajos Némedi, a former deputy mayor of the city. His most powerful challenger is former Fidesz member Zoltán Kész, who will stand as an independent. Kész has a chance – albeit a small one – of winning because all the major left-wing parties have lined up in support: the Socialists (MSZP), the Democratic Coalition (DK), Together, Dialogue for Hungary (PM) and the Movement for Modern Hungary (Moma).
Still, analysts doubt that the left wing will succeed, because the city has always been a Fidesz stronghold. They conclude that the joint effort of the left will not change the situation on February 22.