The Hungarian and Polish models are both similar and successful

Thanks to joint Polish-Hungarian political action and the Visegrád Four cooperation, the two countries have managed to direct unprecedented attention to the Central European region. Polish-Hungarian friendship, which forms the basis of the Visegrád Cooperation, exists not only in the field of migration and the “Europe of Nations” concept but also several other areas. The two governments have been pursuing similar policies in several domains, and results clearly prove them right.

In Poland, the year 2015 brought about changes of similar magnitude to Hungarian elections in 2010; since the collapse of the communist regime, the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) was the first to form a cabinet on its own. Thanks to policies pursued by the Szydło government, Polish-Hungarian relations have gained further strength. Furthermore, the Polish cabinet has introduced several measures based on the experiences gained by the Hungarian government since 2010.

In Hungary, Fidesz-KDNP has led public opinion polls for over eleven years an continues to be by far the most popular party formation despite spending almost eight years in office. Were elections held this Sunday, the outcome would be roughly identical to 2014 elections. Similarly, support for Poland’s ruling party has not changed substantially since elections in 2015. In both countries, lasting political stability creates a strong basis for effective governance.

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PiS government cycle nearing midterm – from the viewpoint of Poland

Introduction

There was a huge change elections in 2015 but now the situation in Poland is quite complicated. On the one hand, the country is continuously improving and on the other there are serious tensions.

The complication is the result of changes pushed by the current government. Changes are quite revolutionary and refer to many areas of social and economic life. For a full understanding of this situation, it is important to observe how public debate is structured. The fundamental aim of the United Right (coalition led by PiS) is the far-reaching change of the political and social system in Poland, including at least partial exchange of social elites. The result of this approach is the middle-class anxiety about its position and its opposition to the planned changes. The government sets the elites (which also include certain middle-class groups) against the lower class, which position is improving due the welfare as well as dignity policy.

Therefore, apart from the growing political conflict on the ruling-opposition axis, there arises social conflict (also on economic basis) between elites and masses, or more precisely between lower and middle class.

As a result of this policy, the ruling coalition gains the support of the lower classes by building a large (though uncertain) electoral base and there is no chance for opposition to attract those voters.

The analysis can be downloaded from here.

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The first half year of László Botka

The first half year – which is the most important for voters – of László Botka, who is also considered as the last hope of MSZP, is clearly a failure. The campaign of MSZP’s prime minister candidate obviously led to a dead-end: since appearing on scene he has announced a range of unpopular promises, moreover none of his efforts regarding the left coalition could have been realized. In addition, the socialist party is in a much worse situation than in the same period before the 2014 elections. Four years ago the party had approximately one million backers, and this number has now dropped to approximately 600 thousand.

Nézőpont Intézet has collected Botka’s 10 blunders from the first half year after his appearance on scene:

HE HAS DRAWN UPON HIMSELF THE HATRED OF THE LEFT WING AND LIBERAL OPPOSITION 

Half a year ago László Botka not only wanted to be MSZP’s prime minister candidate, but also the prime minister candidate of the united left wing. He wanted to close the negotiations by March 2017, but as a result of his unsuccessful dictates, the same exchange of messages between the left wing parties is to be expected like four years ago. The „coalition-debate” before 2014 is going to repeat itself as the „cooperation-debate”. This doesn’t only repel latent but also the confessed left wing voters.

INAPPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT OF THE GYURCSÁNY-PROBLEM 

The same dog-fight started with Botka like the one before 2014, the actual MSZP leader is sending messages through the press to Ferenc Gyurcsány on a daily basis. So despite of ignoring him, he directs the attention again to Gyurcsány. The DK leader exploits this, managing to keep his 250-300 thousand supporters together, against Botka’s will, and the Anti-Gyurcsány left wing voters didn’t become MSZP voters.

DIFFERENCES INSIDE THE PARTY BECOME MORE PRONOUNCED 

On last year’s election of officials, Botka was dismissed as committee president by a high ratio showing that he has numerous opponents inside the party. That is why he insisted on his right of veto regarding the 2018 candidates, and that the list should not contain any of those „leading the party to the two-thirds defeat of 2010”. He didn’t tell any names however, aiming to keep his opponents guessing. This on the other hand can make the already significant inner conflicts become more pronounced,  so that Botka won’t be able to rely on experienced leaders during the campaign who could otherwise help him. Indirect evidence is that none of the well-known faces of MSZP – despite of the wide congress support – are enthusiastic about Botka’s nomination.

DENIAL OF THE PAST AS SOMEONE BEING ACTIVE BEFORE 2010

All the socialist leaders after 2010 tried to describe MSZP as a renewed party separated from the mistakes of the past. László Botka however talks about the break with the period before 2010 as one of the dominant characters of that period, supporting decisions and standing for Ferenc Gyurcsány many times. Considering this, he can be blamed any time for supporting Gyurcsány, causing a credibility deficit.

NO RESIGNATION AS SZEGED MAYOR 

László Botka hasn’t resigned as Szeged mayor, telling voters that he is not absolutely sure about his 2018 victory, because he is keeping his position in Szeged for security reasons. This can also be considered as a vulnerable point moreover, it can ruin the remaining socialist supporters’ faith in victory. Botka presumably hopes that by 2019 no one will remember that he tried to leave Szeged for the more powerful minister president position a few years earlier.

PROBLEMS WITH THE DECLARATION OF WEALTH, SZEVIÉP-CASE

For politicians going in for the national political scene, especially for the prime minister title, one of the most important aims is to have a flawless declaration of wealth as it can have great press coverage. László Botka, not learning from previous cases, got into an especially embarrassing situation due to his incomplete declaration of wealth. This is a big vulnerable point for a minister president candidate campaigning with wealth tax and the taxation of the wealthy, making Botka launch into explanations right at the beginning of his campaign instead of popularizing his program. To make matters worse, the Szeviép-case can later be a problem for him similar to Gordon Bajnai’s Hajdú-Bét-case.

ATTACKING THE HUNGARIAN MIGRATION POLICY

Two-thirds (66 percent) of the Hungarian population supports the Hungarian government’s migration policy, regardless of party preferences, even 42 percent of left-wing voters find the government’s migration measures appropriate. Given that, it is beyond comprehension why László Botka keeps criticizing the migration policy measures,  on top of it all even his earlier statements can later turn to be embarrassing. In 2015, in the middle of the migrant crisis for example he talked about the government wasting tens of billions on the completely useless „new iron curtain”. Among others, as a result of this policy, the party’s support decreased or stagnated in 2015 and 2016.

BRUSSELS AND CURRYING FAVOR WITH SOROS 

It is a serious political blunder of László Botka that he stayed in Brussels at the same time with György Soros. Although he denied the „lucky accident”, next day he promised the withdrawal of the law affecting the Soros-university and the act facilitating the transparency of organizations supported from abroad. Creeping into the favor of the Brussels leadership is another self-goal similar to the support of the EU migration policy, while these are issues dividing and not expanding his supporters.

BOYCOTT OF THE PRO-GOVERNMENT MEDIA 

The fact that MSZP is disinclined to give interview for media investigating László Botka’s enrichment, corruption suspicious and other personal cases, they might make voters believe that they have no explanation for those cases. Moreover, for a prime minister candidate appearing for the first time, every media presence increasing recognition can be an advantage. As the price of media presence can be calculated, the MSZP could also cancel its state campaign support  (HUF 1 billion in case of independent campaign). Not mentioning that, with this step MSZP has also passed significant advertising surface to other opposition parties – among others to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party or LMP.

INSPIRING FEAR IN THE MIDDLE CLASS

Under the slogan „Let’s make the rich pay!” Botka tries to increase the popularity of MSZP with such ideology-driven social promises which generate fear in the middle class. Namely the message „Let’s make the rich pay!” raises the questions: who are actually the rich according to the socialists, and what if those aren’t considered as rich today will be considered as such tomorrow? This is also intensified by the fact that they failed to support their promises with background calculations and concrete proposals. Hence this is only a proposal with the status of a superficial campaign slogan. Here we have the „visit fee effect”: its introduction ten years ago not only caused an outcry because of breaking an election promise, but also because no one knew the validity of the defined fee.

Full text of the analysis is available here (in Hungarian).

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The Year of Europe: Dutch and French Election Results in Focus

Budapest, 29th May 2017 – An international event organised by Nézőpont Intézet was held today on elections in the Netherlands and France.

Speaking at the event, Csaba Fodor, Managing Director of Nézőpont Intézet, presented a volume of studies on the interpretation of these elections’ results, the background of anti-establishment forces’ increasing popularity and the role of immigration in setting campaign agendas. The analyst stressed that a strong Europe can only be established based on nation-states, and an essential prerequisite of this is the operation of stable governments in member-states. This is vital because the European Union is now faced by the most serious crisis in its history, the pointed out, adding that Brexit, the immigration crisis, terrorism, economic and social difficulties experienced by southern member states and the demographic situation constitute major symptoms on their own even if examined individually.

The volume of analyses points out the emergence of a political crisis parallel to these phenomena. According to public opinion polls carried out in member states, close to sixty million voters currently back left-wing or right-wing anti-establishment political forces. This amounts to around one-fifths of citizens of voting age in individual member states. Furthermore, the number of voters supporting anti-establishment forces has increased by six million since the outbreak of the immigration crisis two years ago, which equals the entire population of Slovakia. (more…)

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