Destinations Magazine

On the March

By Stizzard

THIS year is not going well for Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister. After falling out with a key oligarch and ally, Mr Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party has lost two by-elections. The loss of Veszprem in February to a left-winger cost Fidesz its two-thirds majority in parliament. But its defeat in Tapolca on April 12th has even bigger implications. Lajos Rig took the seat for Jobbik, an extreme-right party, with 35.3% of the vote to Fidesz’s 34.4 %. The left-wing candidate trailed with 26.3%.

Modern, decentralised campaign tactics helped Jobbik to win. Whereas Fidesz ran an old-fashioned air war, parachuting in party leaders, including Mr Orban, only for brief visits, Jobbik ran a well co-ordinated ground war, flooding the constituency with MPs and activists, targeting villages and focusing on local concerns such as Tapolca’s hospital.

Gabor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, hailed the victory as a “historic event”. Jobbik, not the left, he said, was now the main challenger to Fidesz. This is the first time Jobbik has won a seat directly, rather than through the national-list system. That is a potential game-changer, says Akos Balogh, of, a conservative news portal. “Jobbik has the second-strongest campaign machine and it is still building it up.”

Fidesz still leads in most polls, but it is losing ground. Last year it won Hungary’s national,…

The Economist: Europe

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