Lifting the veil of Fidesz’s invincibility
A changing Fidesz electorate
- Fidesz’s ability to mobilise its voters remains strong, they can still gain new voters even in larger cities and the capital. Hungarians living in smaller settlements are strongly committed to the ruling party, which is partly the consequence of the locals’ value orientation, but the vulnerability of poorer voters and the opposition’s lack of embeddedness in these areas are also contributing factors.
- Fidesz has a massive advantage outside of the capital and the 23 cities with county rights (CCR, according to county list results. The aggregated share of votes Fidesz received on the county lists improved to 57.2% in 2019 from 52.6 percent in 2014. The ruling party’s vote share improved in all but one county between the two elections. This is a massive improvement over 2014, especially if we consider that the party was already dominant in smaller settlements then. When the 2019 municipal election results are compared to those of the 2019 EP elections, Fidesz only strengthened in four counties, but this is rather indicative of the different nature of and stakes at the election rather than the party’s loss of popularity.
The conclusions of opposition cooperation
- The opposition managed to secure mayoral seats despite the fact that their Fidesz-affiliated rivals did not lose any votes almost anywhere. As a result of cooperating more effectively, they could mobilise more new voters compared to 2014 than Fidesz did. The reasons behind this are the following:
- For the first time since 2006, the opposition fielded a lord mayoral candidate who voters believed could be capable of beating his Fidesz-affiliated opponent. This primarily gave a boost to campaigns in Budapest districts, but it had a nation-wide effect as well.
- The opposition fielded more credible mayoral candidates embedded locally than in 2014 (but not even close to fielding such a candidate in all Budapest districts and CCRs). Although many – mainly in larger towns – viewed the municipal elections as an anti-Orbán referendum, the opposition also managed to reach out to voters who want candidates to give answers to local issues.
- The Fidesz-dominated media space and its inability to access public advertising surfaces made the opposition understand that it has two remaining channels to reach its voters: social media and face-to-face campaigns.