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Fidesz sweeps to commanding election win

The governing Fidesz party has claimed an overwhelming victory at Sunday’s municipal elections, taking assembly majorities in all larger cities except Szeged, where the socialist incumbent László Botka retained his mayoral post.

The result confirms most poll forecasts.

The outcome entails that the governing party has two-thirds majorities in all major local assemblies. For the first time in the history of post-socialist Hungary, Budapest will have a conservative mayor in István Tarlós who comfortably beat MSzP’s Csaba Horváth while the candidates of the two smaller parliamentary groups did not even get past the 10% mark. Countrywide, turnout for the vote was conspicuously low, not even reaching 50%.

After practically taking direct control of the entire country, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as well as other prominent speakers from his camp were seen by analysts and the international media to have been reserved. His interpretation of the low turnout was that the majority of the public are satisfied with the work the government has done so far and did not feel the need to express their disapproval. He also hinted at difficulties that will come, somewhat confirming that now that the vote is over his government will introduce stringency measures to meet deficit targets. Budapest’s new Fidesz-KDNP-backed mayor István Tarlós likewise highlighted the challenges that lie ahead.

The socialist MSzP, ousted from governance at the general election in April, actually surpassed poll figures, but still came second with a major disadvantage. Even in traditionally left-leaning neighborhoods, most of their candidates could not win. Some of the notable exceptions are the city of Szeged and three districts of Budapest, especially Angyalföld, where incumbent József Tóth remains untouchable despite the strong anti-socialist sentiment.

The two smaller parliamentary groups, the radical Jobbik and the green LMP both received support that was below their expectations. Nonetheless, Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona stressed that his side now has representation in a number of local assemblies where it has never been active before and one of its nominees even won a mayoral post in Tiszavasvári. LMP candidate for Budapest mayor Benedek Jávor said the Sunday vote has established his party as a side to be reckoned with and noted the importance of the handful of seats LMP won in local assemblies in promoting the green cause. (BBJ)