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Orbán, Bajnai tout candidacies in foreign press

Parliament

Are you ready for Election 2014 in Hungary? Sitting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his presumed chief opponent Gordon Bajnai of the Együtt 2014-Dialogue for Hungary coalition sure are, as both took to international media to make their case today.

Orbán in particular has demonstrated a great knack for playing up his administration’s accomplishments; more of the same runs at the Wall Street Journal online version today under the telling headline “Hungary Premier (sic) Credits His ‘Unorthodox’ Course for Economic Rebound.

Explained the Prime Minister to the WSJ: “When you are in trouble, when your neighbors are also hit with crisis, just following standard, generalized economic policies doesn't work. You need to take targeted action. People say such policies are unorthodox. If you have a more positive view, they are innovative. But they are targeted.”

Further down in the piece, Orbán says that “If you look beyond the numbers, the impact of our economic policy has been clearly a strengthening of the middle class. If you don't want an economic crisis to become a political crisis, you need to defend the middle class.”

Within the Journal piece, a bit of a wet blanket is thrown on the warmth from economist Neil Shearing of Capital Economics – the same analyst group who showed many positives for Hungary's economy in a recent report. “Hungary’s recovery is partly due to good fortune. The Eurozone crisis never flared up to the extent we feared,” said Shearing. “Part of it is also due to a genuine fiscal-tightening policy becoming less restrictive and some of it to measures that have received an awful lot of criticism.”

Bajnai meanwhile addressed foreign correspondents in Budapest, emphasizing that he “aspires and expects” to be his Együtt party’s choice for prime minister, stating that “he doesn’t see a better choice.” Bajnai went on state that the search for joint candidates with the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP), including a Prime Minister nominee should the coalition win a minority, continues. Bajnai warned that the parties might not present a consensus choice for the top seat, however, with MSzP president Attila Mesterházy a possible second coalition candidate.

Bajnai went on to describe the current administration as a “radical populist government” and that the Hungary economy is “doomed to shrink in strategic sense” while “Hungary is on a long march out of the European Union” as things stand.

Earlier this week, Global market researcher/pollster Ipsos released the somewhat paradoxical results of its latest election survey. Said results reflect an apparent continuing lack of enthusiasm for the extant parties, with 52% stating they’d like a different government in 2014 but 62% expressing dissatisfaction with the opposition as well. In terms of support, Fidesz and MSzP held firm at 25% and 15% approval ratings, respectively; Jobbik and Együtt 2014 managed 7% approval, while LMP and Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition each managed 2%. A whopping 45% of the 1,500 respondents claimed they would vote for no party.

As for performance of the current government, 65% of respondents agreed that “Hungary is on the wrong track” and 55% gave a letter grade of “D” or “F” to the government in assessing performance.

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