LIVE BLOG: 2022 Hungarian national elections

2022.04.03. 18:46

Who will be smiling at the end of the day? Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or his upstart challenger, Péter Márki-Zay? Can smaller parties Our Homeland and the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (MKKP) scrape together enough votes to make it into Parliament?

LIVE BLOG: 2022 Hungarian national elections

Hungary is holding both parliamentary elections and a national referendum on Sunday, April 3.

Under the new electoral system introduced in 2011, victory in Hungary’s 106 individual electoral districts is key to gaining control of the 199-seat National Assembly.

This year, for the first time, Hungary’s smaller opposition parties are running candidates together, under the United for Hungary banner, with the hope that a single candidate will have a better chance of defeating the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition in a one-on-one fight.

The final poll conducted by Publicus Institute before the election shows both the government parties and the united opposition both have 47% support among voters who are certain of who they will vote for.

But the proportion of undecided voters is quite high, with nearly 28% of those definitely planning to vote either unsure or not willing to share their voting preference.

(11:56pm)

Dániel Berg: we dealt with issues that weren’t too important to the average voter

At the opposition’s election watch party, Péter Aradi from Azonnali spoke with Dániel Berg, vice-president of the liberal ALDE European political party and former candidate for the Momentum Movement.

In the interview, Berg said that he had believed in an opposition victory, so the election results were a bit of a gut punch, especially when he has to pray for the victory of candidates like the well-known Bernadett Szél.

He also said that the next few years will demand that the opposition remain an active political force, and pointed out three future themes that the opposition had already highlighted during the campaign: the fight against corruption, Western integration, and restoring the rule of law.

At the same time, he also criticized the opposition

for perhaps addressing too many issues that were not important to the average voter.

(11:44pm)

András Jámbor on where the election went wrong for the opposition

András Jámbor, the former editor-in-chief of Mérce and the next Member of Parliament for Budapest’s Józsefváros and Ferencváros neighborhoods, gave a frank interview to Azonnali about the election results.

Jámbor believes that the election slipped away from the opposition

because they lost Jobbik supporters from the lower and middle-class who had voted for the Hungarian Socialist Party prior to 2006.

He also offered some criticism of the opposition by saying that its politicians have to do more than than just going onto ATV‘s news programs and talking.

(11:02pm)

Viktor Orbán delivers a victory speech

We look pretty good, we looked better and better, maybe we never looked as good as we have tonight.

- said Viktor Orbán as he began his victory speech with his standard phrases.

The Prime Minister claimed that

“we had such a victory that it can even be seen from the moon, but certainly from Brussels.”

He then thanked Hungarians across the border in particular for their support. To ethnic Hungarians in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine, Orbán said, “the motherland is with you.” He then thanked every Hungarian citizen.

But Orbán noted that their great victory cautioned them to be modest. As he stated, they had already defeated the opposition in every way possible, whether in individual races or collectively. And despite the largest political force ever being arrayed against them, they still won their biggest victory.

Huge international centers of power were mobilized against us. To them, we say that every penny was wasted. The Hungarian left was the worst investment of Uncle Gyuri’s life. For 12 years they’ve just taken his money for nothing.

- said Orbán in reference to George Soros, who provided Fidesz with financial assistance in its early formative years.

He then said

“the international left, the media, Brussels, and even the Ukrainian President”

had all been against Fidesz.

As for the future of Christian Democrat politics, Orbán declared,

“this is not the past, but the future.”

(10:51pm)

The only question now is whether Fidesz end up with a two-thirds majority

Even before the election, most polls showed a strong likelihood of victory for Fidesz, with the only question being whether Hungary’s ruling party would win a two-thirds majority of seats in Parliament.

Publicus Institute estimated that Fidesz would win the most mandates, predicting a total of 129 seats for the Fidesz-KDNP ruling parties.

But with 71.01% of the vote already counted, it appears possible that they could even win another two-thirds majority in Parliament. The party that has been governing since 2010 would currently win 134 mandates in the 199-seat National Assembly.

Incomplete results for the party lists currently show:

  • Fidesz-KDNP – 54.45%
  • United for Hungary – 33.72%
  • Our Homeland – 6.40%
  • Hungarian Two-Talied Dog Party (MKKP) – 3.06%

As we have previously cautioned, the so-called fractional votes have not yet been added to these numbers, and in many electoral districts there are still many votes to be counted.

(10:45pm)

Opposition candidate Jámbor seems likely to prevail in Budapest’s Józsefváros

With 89.29% of the vote counted, András Jámbor has increased his advantage over Fidesz’s Botond Sára, making it more and more likely that the opposition candidate will win this hard-fought race.

Jámbor is currently standing at 47.60% of the vote, with Sára at 42.5%. In addition to the two main contenders, two other serious candidates in the race are currently under 5% of the total vote: Dóra Dúró, MP from Our Country, is at 4.87%, while MKKP Co-Chair Zsuzsanna Döme is standing at 4.33%.

If these two still want to be MPs in the next Parliament, they will have to do so from their party’s list, if they can reach the minimum 5% threshold on their respective party’s lists.

At the moment, Dúró has a much better chance at this than her MKKP rival, as Our Homeland is standing at 6.41% with 71.01% of votes having been counted, while MKKP is only at 3.03%.

(10:27pm)

János Lázár defeats Péter Márki-Zay, wins another four years in Parliament

With 95.41% of the vote having been counted in Csongrád-Csanád County’s 4th electoral district, it now appears certain that János Lázár has defeated the opposition’s candidate for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay, in their race for an individual parliamentary mandate.

Lázár won the race 52.08% to Márki-Zay’s 39.92%. Otherwise, Lázár appears to have received fewer votes this year than four years ago. Whereas 29,534 people voted for him at that time, only 26,997 did so this year.

If Márki-Zay still wishes to be a Member of Parliament, he will have to do so from the united opposition’s party list, and a special election will have to be held for his current position as mayor of Hódmezővásárhely.

(10:16pm)

Opposition watch party is like the last day of Sziget Festival

The mood is not great at the opposition watch party at City Park, to put it mildly.

Azonnali met with Budapest Deputy Mayor Gábor Kerpel-Fronius, who said that he was not the designated spokesperson for the campaign, and he would be holding to that.

Fotó: Azonnali

People are slowly heading out of City Park. Perhaps it’s not an exaggeration to say that the results are not the best from their point of view, and they can’t even go anywhere to warm up.

(9:42pm)

Where things stand with 36% of the vote counted

With more than a third of the vote, 36.32%, having been counted, it seems that there are hardly any electoral districts outside of the capital where the Fidesz candidate is not leading.

Opposition candidates are only leading in three of these places:

  • Tamás Mellár in Pécs-01
  • Sándor Szabó in Szeged-01
  • Gergely Kálló in Dunaújváros.

(9:39pm)

Márki-Zay likely to go down in Hódmezővásárhely

János Lázár continues to lead comfortably against the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, Péter Márki-Zay.

With 74.31% of the vote counted, the former Fidesz chancellor minister has 51.50% of the vote, while the opposition’s candidate for prime minister is at 40.37%.

Lázár’s vote share in 2018 was 51.78%, meaning his support in the electoral district hs remained relatively stable.

(9:28pm)

With few votes counted, Fidesz currently has a two-thirds majority

With 28.08% of the party votes having been counted, and at the current status of the individual electoral districts, Fidesz would gain 134 seats in the new Parliament, meaning another two-thirds majority, while the opposition would have 57 seats and far-right Our Homeland would get 8 mandates.

The race between the party lists as it currently stands:

  • Fidesz-KDNP – 59.36%
  • United for Hungary – 29.44%
  • Our Homeland – 6.59%
  • Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (MKKP) – 2.46%

As previously noted, the “fractional votes” have not yet been added, and most votes have not been counted. Data typically arrives first from smaller towns. At the moment, it appears likely that Fidesz will win the election, but a two-thirds majority is not at all certain.

(9:09pm)

Opposition currenly leading in Budapest

Based on the first partial vote returns, Fidesz-KDNP candidates are leading in only three of Budapest’s 18 individual electoral districts:

  • Kristóf Szathmáry in the 13th electoral district (District XVI)
  • Mónika Dunai in the 14th (District XVII)
  • Zsolt Wintermantel in the 11th (District IV)

Candidates from the united opposition lead in the other 13 constituencies of the capital city.

(9:07pm)

Huge joy at Our Homeland election watch party

The far-right Our Homeland welcomed the first partial results of the election at its watch party, which appears to show that it will be will the third-largest political force in the next four years. Party members and sympathizers greeted the news with large ovations for all of its politicians that have gotten over 5% of the vote so far. Party Chair László Toroczkai currently has 18% in Csongrád-Csanád County’s 2nd electoral district, which received a huge cheer when it appeared on the screen.

(8:59pm)

First numbers give Fidesz a commanding lead

The National Election Office has published its first data. With 16.76% of the vote counted, here’s where the parties stand:

  • Fidesz-KDNP – 61.93%
  • United for Hungary – 27.06%
  • Our Homeland – 6.61%
  • Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party – 2.28%

As a word of caution, it must be added that, few votes have been counted yet, and so-called “fractional votes” have yet to be included.

(8:21pm)

Hungarians in London kicked out of their planned election party venue

Although they had even rented a projector for their election party, the venue unexpectedly closed at 7:00pm and kicked everyone out. So now Hungarians in London are now on the street waiting to see what will happen next.

Fotó: Fekő Ádám
“Fuck, what assholes.”

- a guest was heard to say (presumably in Hungarian).

At the moment, no one knows if there will be an actual election party in London, but Tamás Csillag pointed out that Momentum did not organize this, and even they don’t understand what’s going on.

(7:37pm)

Gergely Gulyás: High turnout gives the new Parliament strong legitimacy

Shortly after 7:00pm, Gergely Gulyás and Zsolt Semjén appeared at the Fidesz election party to thank everyone for their participation in the election.

Gergely Gulyás said that the high turnout rate gives the new Parliament strong legitimacy.

Fotó: Kósa András / Azonnali

Responding to a question from Azonnali about allegations of electoral fraud, the minister said that the majority of these weren’t attributed to the ruling party, but to the political opposition.

As an example, he mentioned a company associated with former prime minister Gordon Bajani, which had sent unsolicited text messages to a number of voters.

Regarding the discarded and partially-burned ballots found by the side of the road near Târgu Mureş, he reiterated that it was an “opposition provocation.”

As to the question of whether he could imagine the opposition gaining access to these ballots, he said that among the hundreds of thousands of registered cross-border voters, there were certainly some who support the opposition.

(7:24pm)

Turnout data right before polls close show 2022 slightly behind 2018

Turnout statistics at 6:30pm show that a total of 5,216,424 Hungarians have cast their vote, making up 67.8% of the electorate. That’s just 0.3 percentage points lower than the turnout rate in 2018, when 68.1% of voters went to the polls.

Four years ago, Fidesz was pleased with the higher participation rate, but who it will benefit this year will be revealed in a few hours.

(7:01pm)

Where things stand at 7:00pm

It’s now past 7:00pm, and the election has officially ended. However, those who got in line before 7:00pm are still allowed to cast their vote.

We’re now waiting for the first results to start arriving. Since the referendum was also held together with the parliamentary elections, it will presumably take more time to count the votes, so feel free to put on another pot of coffee.

(5:51pm)

Turnout at 5:00pm: 62.92%

Turnout for this year’s election is still lower than what it was in 2018. By 5:00pm, 4,840,928 people, or 62.92% of all registered voters, had gone to the polls.

In 2018, 63.2% of voters had voted by that time, meaning that there is only a hair’s breadth of difference between this year and four years ago in terms of voter participation in the elections.

Back in 2002, however, following lunchtime on Sunday, even more people had gone to the polls. By 5:00pm on election day that year, 65.56% of voters had cast their vote. By the time polling stations closed for the day, turnout had reached a final 70.53%.

At the moment, it doesn’t appear that turnout will break any records this year. But at the current pace, we can still count on it being very high by the time the polls close at 7:00pm.

(5:23pm)

Nothing happening in Bálna yet

Fidesz is awaiting the election results at Budapest’s Bálna, but at the moment there aren’t any politicians or pro-government celebrities to be seen.

Novák Előd és Fekete László. Fotó: Kulcsár Árpád/Azonnali

Novák Előd és Fekete László. Fotó: Kulcsár Árpád/Azonnali

Fotó: Kósa András / Azonnali

Compared to the party’s last such event back in May 2019, when Fidesz awaited the results of the European Parliament elections, prices have inflated significantly. Azonnali‘s correspondent recalls that they only asked for 500 Ft. for a sandwich at that time, compared to 1,090 Ft. now. However, the cost of a Coke remains rock solid at 490 Ft.

(5:13pm)

Viktor Orbán and Péter Szijjártó personally call voters in image videos

On Saturday, Minister of Justice Judit Varga posted a video of herself calling up voters in the party’s database to help drive turnout for the Fidesz candidate in the Kiskunhalas electoral district. And now Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also shared a video on Sunday afternoon as voting takes place, in which he talks to a voter and then comments on the result with all the half-heartedness of a call center trainee.

Viktor Orbán does this slightly more professionally, like everything, and even manages to throw in a joke at the end. The Prime Minister’s image video is a refreshing change from the posts he shared earlier in the day that the Communists would all be voting, and that the stakes were whether Hungary would be swept into the war or not.

(4:59pm)

The biggest question is which side is better at turning out their voters in the remaining hours

It is almost a cliché to say that elections are decided by undecided voters.

While this is partly true, it is not as well-known that most undecided voters have a political preference, and what they are really undecided about is whether they will show up at the polls or not.

It is therefore crucial that parties speak to this not-at-all homogenous gorup of voters as well as to their base. They can best be persuaded to head to the polls through easily-consumable, simple messages, and “negative party thinking” is the most effective tool to achieve this.

In this light, the opposition made a tactical mistake at the beginning of the campaign, when its main message was that Fidesz was lying about the opposition wanting to take away family-related social benefits and end the utility price cut policy. This messaging didn’t give them an opportunity to communicate their own alternative to voters who are less politically-active.

But Fidesz’s “forward instead of backward” slogan wasn’t all that enticing either to undecided voters inclined to vote for the ruling parties but not completely convinced they should take part in the elections.

The two sides formed better messages in regards to the war in Ukraine: the opposition has communicated that Viktor Orbán and Fidesz are on Putin’s side in the conflict and that they represent Western values, while Fidesz-KDNP has communicated that the opposition would draw Hungary into the war if it comes into power.

Both messages are simple, easy to understand, and offer clear value propositions. The fact that these messages do not exactly match the reality of the situation is another matter.

The truth is that the Orbán government has voted for every EU sanction against the Russian aggressor, and that the opposition would not send Hungarian troops to Ukraine unless the NATO military alliance decides to do so. And if NATO does decide to send troops, presumably the Orbán government will also do the same.

(4:06pm)

Turnout 52.75% at 3:00pm

The National Election Office announced its 3:00pm turnout data, showing that 52.75% of eligible voters had already cast a vote. Voter turnout for the national referendum was less than 52.18% by 3:00pm.

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