Hungarian elections

by Eszter Hargittai on April 23, 2006

I’m sure lots of CT readers are on the edge of their seat about today’s Hungarian elections so here are the results. The left held on to its position (actually, strengthened it a bit) by winning the majority of seats in parliament after the second round of votes today.

This graph is helpful not only to visualize the distribution of seats resulting from this year’s elections, but also to compare the outcomes of the last five elections. It’s the first time since the political changes of the late 80s that the governing coalition maintained its position. As a bit of explanation, red stands for the socialist part, orange for the conservatives, blue for the liberal party (which refers to left-of-center in Hungary) and green is another party on the right. Interestingly, they were so disgusted by FIDESZ (the orange party) that they were not willing to go into a coalition with them no matter what.

Fun anecdote: Two weeks ago during the first round of voting, my parents ran into Prime Minister Gyurcsány while they were all on their way to the voting booths. They like him lots so this was a pleasant encounter.

Fun video: Here is the Prime Minister replacing Hugh Grant’s dancing moves in a clip from the Love Actually movie.

Gyurcsány maintained a blog throughout the campaign.

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John Quiggin » Blog Archive » Guest post on the Hungarian elections
04.27.06 at 6:35 am



Cryptic Ned 04.23.06 at 5:56 pm

I wish I could vote for a party called “SZDSZ”.


des von bladet 04.23.06 at 6:42 pm

Speaking as someone who _was_ in fact waiting for just such a something, any chance of some more translations? I assume that Cryptic Ned’s mates the SZDSZ are the Free Democrats, (and therefore speculate that the digraph “SZ” operates as a single unit in abbreviations – it represents the sound of English “s”, non-Hungroonophones will be engrossed to know if they didn’t already), but I am a bit perplexed why these such non-nationalist budget cutters are mates with the free-spending Socialistes.

(And I have more reservations than my erudite Zweetie that this such spending is especially likely to kickstart a Keynesian recovery and reduce the deficit to Euro-worthy proportions in anything resembling short order.)

Where can non-Hungarians most usefully get briefed on this stuff, anyway? I’m stuck mostly with the Intergalactic Scrapbook-Tribune, but if there are better options in English, French, Zwedish, Dutch or even Cherman I’d be glad to know. (I bet it’s the FAZ, I just bet it’s the bloody FAZ. My Cherman improves almost daily, but the FAZ remains insolently out of reach. Although having looked, they don’t seem to say much beyond confirming my conjecture that the SZDSZ are the liberals.)


dave heasman 04.24.06 at 3:47 am

“So Why Did Anyone Want to Win this Election Anyway?” asks

and has a go at an answer.


DJW 04.24.06 at 3:52 am

Although SZDSZ (pronounced “S-DAY-S”) was formed originally around a core of socialist-era liberal dissidents, and would thus appear to be natural enemies of the Socialists, the party landscape has so developed that Socialists are a better partner than the FIDESZ. FIDESZ began as a “young liberal” organization, moved to fill a vacuum on the right as a “civic” party, and under Orban, became increasingly nationalist and populist, with promises in subsidies and direct payments well in excess of the Socialists in the past two elections. (In retrospect, it is now clear that Orban’s youthful speeches were more nationalist than liberal democratic). The “nationalist” portion of FIDESZ’s identity has to be taken very seriously, as they have targeted voters who previously went for the far-right nationalist parties, and their rhetoric against the “cosmopolitans” in the SZDSZ and Socialist Party is often tacitly understood to include (if not simply encode wholesale) an anti-semitic component. Indeed, the opposition of FIDESZ to internationalism, liberalization, and “cosmopolitanism” has made the SZDSZ the party with which FIDESZ would least likely form a coalition. The Socialists, in the meanwhile, have probably reformed as much as possible without risking the loss of their core voters. Given the constraints on any state within the EU, and in particular on the states which entered in the last enlargement, the Socialists have very little room to move about from any course other than liberalisation and better budgeting.


Doug 04.24.06 at 4:17 am

Keine Sorgen, des, there’s nothing in the FAZ article that’s not here in Eszter’s summary. And quite right, too, about the abbreviation pronunciation: “ess-dee-ess”.


Eszter 04.24.06 at 7:10 am

Sorry, but on the rare occasion that I do follow Hungarian politics, I do so through talking to my parents (who live there) or through reading Hungarian papers. This FAZ article really doesn’t say much more than I did other than pointing out that these results were already pretty apparent after the first round of voting two weeks ago (but of course you can never know the final outcome until the second round).

As for pronounciations, note the “sz” in my own name. It’s a common letter in Hungarian. Yes, it counts as one letter, just like “zs” or “gy” or “ny” or “cs”. They all have their specific place in the alphabet. And as Des notes, “sz” is pronounced like the English “s” (and so if you didn’t already know, my name is pronounced “Ester” not “Eshter”). “S-DAY-S” is almost right, just pitch the “y” sound at the end of “day”. And so after this little language lesson you should also be able to pronounce Liszt’s name correctly (although I suspect few had any problems with that).

And let’s not even get into how to pronounce the prime minister’s name.:)


decon 04.24.06 at 8:39 am

The interesting thing to me looking at the charts is the consolidation of the parties. MSZP and FIDESZ have marginalized all of the other contenders. I see it is single member districts. A little primer on the electoral system?


Cryptic Ned 04.24.06 at 11:02 am

And let’s not even get into how to pronounce the prime minister’s name.:)

“Ferrents Joor-chahny”?


lago 04.24.06 at 11:56 am

I propose the promulgation of Eszter’s Law: “Any attempt to discuss substantive issues regarding Hungary inevitably will degenerate into discussion of Hungarian pronunciation.”


P O'Neill 04.24.06 at 10:42 pm

The WSJ Europe gets around to editorialising:

This brings us back to the financial markets’ welcome of the election results, which might be due to too much wishful thinking rather than concrete evidence of a change of heart in Budapest. “People think there is no escape from fiscal consolidation and that if there is just one way, the government will just have to follow it,” Gyorgy Barcza, chief economist of ING Bank Hungary, told us. But this is certainly not the experience of Hungary or much of Europe these days where populist talk of some vague notion of “social justice” has replaced real policy making. Hungary’s deficit problem is primarily a spending problem. In order to fix it, the government would have to cut entitlements, such as reducing the size of the public workforce (a quarter of all employed), cutting pensions or health care spending — in short, the opposite of populism.

Mr. Gyucsany yesterday announced “the most intensive reform period since the change of the regime,” referring to the collapse of the Communist system. Whether the incumbent really understands the seriousness of the situation or simply understands what the markets would like to hear remains to be seen. It isn’t very reassuring that he failed to give any details of his plan. The markets might not be calm for long.


otto von bladet 04.25.06 at 6:12 am

P O’Neill (can I call you P?): Gyucsany said he couldn’t give explicit details until he’d talked to his (very pro-spending-cuts) coalition partners, according to the Financial Times. Which such sourciness reminds me to wonder or muse: why does the WSJ(E) insist on existing?


Jonathan Edelstein 04.25.06 at 10:11 pm

Now I’m wondering whether anyone managed to vote in the Italian, Peruvian and (first round of the) Hungarian elections on the same day. The trouble is that Italy and Peru allow expat voting but Hungary doesn’t, so only triple citizens residing in Hungary would be able to pull it off.


Dr. Minorka 04.26.06 at 10:25 pm

Jolly days in Hungary!
1. The red party: Mr. Gyurcsany is one of the richest man in Hungary. He was one of the last leaders of the communist youth organisation, and was very very “clever” to turn his political connections into monetary gains. As a great reformer of the leftist politics, he declared that elites have to be assisted. Despite the the looming financial crisis he managed to lower the tax-burden of the richest.
2. The blue party: An interesting alliance. The far-left (human rights, identity politics etc.) of the Democratic Party and the far-right (economic and social policy) of the Republican Party in one party.
3. The green party: Financed by the socialists (800 milliom forints in cash). Heavily backed by a former socialist politican/businessman. Ideological munition provided by two members of the Hayek Society of Hungary (close allies of Mr. Gyurcsany).
4. The orange party: Originally they have a clear strategy. They spoke about a work-based society, about christian socialism and humanism, and against extreme capitalism, against luxus profits. (Targeting socialist voters). At that time their party had a 20% lead. But their campaign turned into other directions, targeting right-wing voters.
5.”I am a bit perplexed why these such non-nationalist budget cutters are mates with the free-spending Socialistes.”
They need someone to do the dirty work – the population is somehow skeptical concerning the wonderful benefits of free-market capitalism . (And do not forget the very heavy monetary gains in a very corrupt political system).
6. Hungarian expats can vote.
7. The election system:

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