Victory in By-Election Masks Major Challenges Facing Hungary’s Opposition

Victory in By-Election Masks Major Challenges Facing Hungary’s Opposition
Gabor Vona, chairman of the opposition Jobbik party, delivers a speech during a protest, Budapest, Hungary, Dec. 15, 2017 (MTI photo by Zoltan Balogh via AP).

In late February, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, suffered a shock defeat in one of its rural strongholds, losing a by-election to an independent candidate backed by the opposition. The result seemed to give new life to the opposition ahead of national elections scheduled for April 8. In an email interview, András Bozóki, a professor of political science at Central European University in Budapest, discusses how the opposition has fared during eight years under Orban and what its prospects are for the upcoming vote.

WPR: What is the state of the political opposition in Hungary today, and how has it fared overall under Prime Minister Viktor Orban?

András Bozóki: Following the 2010 election, when Orban came to power, the opposition suffered immensely as a result of changes the government implemented to the electoral system. These included replacing two rounds of voting with one, extensive gerrymandering, changes to party financing regulations, and discriminatory policies directed at Hungarian citizens living outside the country.

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