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Evaluation of the 2009 European Parliament Elections in Hungary

[journal article]

Antal, Attila

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Abstract The 2009 elections for the European Union have been special for several reasons: on the one hand the world has been struggling with an economic crisis; on the other hand the Hungarian government has been in crisis since 2006.As for the second one, the opposition “converted” the elections to a referendum held on the recent work of the government. The predictions of the public opinion polls proved to be adequate: after sending nine representatives fi ve years ago, the Socialist Party this year could only get four places. Nevertheless the predictions of the opinion polls proved to be unpunctual, because only one-two places were expected to be taken by the far right party Jobbik. It succeeded in getting even three places though. (Only 31,36 % of the citizens voted, which also ‘deformed’ somewhat the situation.) The biggest opposition party Fidesz (56,36 %) received fourteen mandates, which could have been awaited because of the weakness of the government. The question remains though, how can Fidesz handle the far right voters, because Jobbik doesn’t want to belong to a big right-wing conglomerate. The tendencies mentioned above predict the rearrangement of the current Hungarian party system, namely the potential appearance of the far right powers. Although the Socialist party sustained a defeat at the elections and parallel to this the right wing could improve their strength, the elections did not turn to a domestic referendum: Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai was not forced to resign, moreover the minority governing Socialist fraction approved (with the votes of their former coalition partner) the laws most important for handling the crises after the defeat.
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Free Keywords European elections; Hungary; political parties; Fidesz; Jobbik; Hungarian party system
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 5-31
Journal Politics in Central Europe, 5 (2009) 2
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications