Crunching the Election Numbers

Results in individual voting-districts outside Budapest: orange=Fidesz victory; red=Change of Government victory.

Results in individual voting districts located outside  Budapest: orange=Fidesz victory; red=Change of Government victory.

The FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) alliance won another two-thirds majority in Hungary’s 2014 National Assembly election held on April 6. Fidesz-KDNP won 66.8 percent of the 199 seats in the National Assembly on 44.9 percent of the party-votes cast in the election.

Fidesz-KDNP won 68.1 percent of 386 seats in the National Assembly on 52.7 percent of the party-votes cast in the 2010 general election.

The Fidesz-KDNP super majority will enable the party alliance to enact or rewrite legislation and amend the constitution (called the Fundamental Law) without support from the opposition again during the 2014-2018 parliamentary cycle.

Voting data from the 2014 National Assembly election revealed the following trends compared to 2010 (source for detailed voting results in Hungarian):

Declining Voter Participation

Voter participation declined to 61.2 percent in 2014 from 64.2 percent in 2010.  A total of 4.8 million voters participated in 2014, down from 5.1 million voters in 2010. About 330,000 fewer voters participated in 2014 than in 2010.

Declining Number of Votes for Fidesz

The Fidesz-KDNP governing party-alliance got 44.9 percent of the party votes cast in 2014, down from 52.7 percent in 2010. The Fidesz-KDNP alliance got 2.1 million total party-votes in 2014, down from 2.7 million in 2014.  Fidesz-KDNP got 660,000 fewer party-votes in 2014 than in 2010. Fidesz got more party votes (2.3 million) in both the 2006 and 2002 elections, both of which it lost to the Hungarian Socialist Party.

Increasing Number of Votes for Jobbik

Jobbik officials on election night: why so glum?

Jobbik officials on election night: why so glum?

Radical-nationalist party Jobbik got 20.2 percent of the party votes cast in 2014, up from 16.7 percent in 2010. Jobbik got 985,000 total party-votes in 2014, up from 855,000 in 2010. Jobbik thus received 130,000 more party votes in 2014 than in 2010.

Increasing Number of Votes for the Democratic Opposition

Democratic-opposition parties in the socialist-liberal Change of Government [Kormányváltás] party-alliance and the green party Politics Can Be Different got 25.6 percent of the party votes cast in 2014, up from 24.2 percent in 2010. Democratic-opposition parties got 1.5 million party votes in 2014, up from 1.37 million in 2010. Democratic-opposition parties therefore received 125,000 more party votes in 2014 than in 2010.

Budapest voting-district results: orange = Fidesz victory; red = Change of Government victory.

Budapest voting-district results: orange = Fidesz victory; red = Change of Government victory.

Increasing Success of Democratic Opposition Candidates in Individual Voting Districts

Candidates from the Change of Government party alliance won in 10 of 106 individual voting-districts in Hungary in 2014: eight districts down the center of Budapest as well as one district in the city of Miskolc and one district in the city of Szeged. In 2012, the Hungarian Socialist Party (the main party in the Change of Government Alliance) won two of 210 individual electoral districts, both of them in the traditionally working-class Angyalföld [Angel Field] neighborhood in the northern part of the Pest side of Budapest.

Fidesz-KDNP won all of the other individual electoral-districts in Hungary in both 2014 and 2010.

Jobbik Failure in Individual Voting Districts?

Second-place finishers in individual voting-districts: brown=Jobbik; red=Change of Government; orange=Fidesz.

Second-place finishers in individual voting-districts: brown=Jobbik; red=Change of Government; orange=Fidesz.

Jobbik candidates failed to win elections in any individual electoral-districts. Jobbik President Gábor Vona came the closest, losing to the Fidesz-KDNP candidate in his home district in the city of Gyöngyös in northern Hungary by 650 votes (source in Hungarian). Other high-profile Jobbik candidates, such as Jobbik Vice-President Előd Novák, performed poorly in individual electoral-districts. (Novák finished in fourth place, behind the Politics Can Be Different candidate, in the second electoral-district of Budapest).  

However, Jobbik candidates took second place behind Fidesz-KDNP candidates in 41 of 106 individual electoral-districts in Hungary. Jobbik candidates took second place in 41 of 88 individual electoral-districts outside the city of Budapest (source in Hungarian).

Overwhelming Support of New Hungarian Minority Voters for Fidesz 

A total of  128,712 Hungarian citizens voted via mail in 2014. Most of these voters were Hungarians living as minorities in countries surrounding Hungary, who gained the right to vote in National Assembly elections via the Orbán government’s introduction of expedited procedures for members of such minorities to acquire Hungarian citizenship and elimination of the stipulation in the previous Election Law that citizens must live in Hungary in order to participate in elections.

A total of 95.5 percent of those who cast ballots via mail voted for Fidesz-KDNP (see source in Hungarian). 

The Communist Party: Still Small, but Gaining 

The Workers’ Party (Munkáspárt), the legal successor to the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party that ruled Hungary from 1956 until 1990, won 27,695 party votes in 2014, up from 5,606 votes in 2010. The Workers’ Party received 0.6 percent of all party votes, the fifth highest among all parties and the highest among all parties that qualified to participate in the elections, though failed to exceed the five-percent party-vote threshold required for representation in the National Assembly.

The Newly Founded “Business Parties” Likely Helped Fidesz  

Four more years.

Four more years.

Of the 14 small parties that took part in 2014 National Assembly election, only two—the Workers’ Party and the Party of Greens (Zöldek Pártja)—received more votes than the number of signed recommendation-slips they collected in order to qualify for participation in the election. These parties, many of which did not even exist at the beginning of the year, took advantage of the Orbán administration’s 2011 easing of the conditions that parties need to satisfy in order to participate in National Assembly elections—and gain access to a minimum of 150 million forints (about 500,000 euros) in government funding. 

These so-called “business parties” may have swayed voting results in favor of Fidesz-KDNP in three individual electoral-districts, particularly the 15th electoral district in Budapest in which the Fidesz-KDNP candidate defeated the Change of Government candidate by 22 votes, while the Together 2014 business-party candidate (not to be confused with former prime minister Gordon Bajnai’s Together 2014 party that was part of the Change of Government alliance) got 187 votes (source in Hungarian).

Fidesz Benefited Greatly from the Distribution of Fragmentary Votes for Winning Candidates to Party Lists 

The Orbán government’s 2011 National Assembly Election Law classified votes for victorious candidate in excess of those needed to win elections in individual electoral-districts as so-called “fragmentary votes” (töredékszavazat) added to votes for parties on the national party-list (in addition to those cast for losing candidates in individual electoral-districts as previously). The Fidesz-KDNP won six seats in the 2014 National Assembly election as a result of this change (source in Hungarian).

Conclusion

Recently concluded 2014 National Assembly election in Hungary proved that Fidesz has remained by far the most popular political party in the country. However, Fidesz received just 45 percent of the party vote in the 2014 general election, compared to 52.7 percent in 2010. Fidesz was able to maintain its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly in spite of the party’s sigificant decline in popularity as a result of the extension of voting rights to Hungarians living outside Hungary, the inclusion of more parties on the ballot and, most significantly, the distribution of fragmentary votes for winning candidates to party-list votes pursuant to the Election Law that Fidesz-KDNP representatives passed in 2011. Extremist parties such as the radical-nationalist Jobbik and, to a much lesser degree, the Workers’ Party gained the most from Fidesz’s loss in popularity, though democratic-opposition parties benefited somewhat as well. Fidesz will doubtlessly use its renewed two-thirds majority in the National Assembly to further skew the electoral system in the party’s favor before the next national election. However, these changes will not likely prevent Fidesz from losing a significant number of seats in the National Assembly in 2018 if the party’s popularity continues to decline over the next four years as it did over the past four years. In this event, Jobbik appears to be the party that is gaining the popular support necessary to assume the role of kingmaker. 

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