The international alt-right, which has come to view Viktor Orbán as a beacon of hope, will be sorely disappointed this morning. According to the conservative Magyar Nemzet daily, Fidesz party headquarters issued a directive to all government politicians expressly prohibiting them from posting negative commentary about George Soros on social media. Viktor Orbán’s decision to end a two-and-a-half year long relentless verbal and occasionally legislative war against the 87 year old American-Hungarian billionaire comes merely two days after Fidesz lost one of its strongest bastions, Hódmezővásárhely, after holding the city for twenty years. Magyar Nemzet notes that since Sunday night, George Soros, previously attacked incessantly by the pro-Fidesz media, has “magically vanished” from the government press.
The online news site Index surveyed the postings of Fidesz politicians on social media Wednesday morning and discovered a 180 degrees shift. Politicians who before posted furiously about Hungary’s national boogeyman have now decided to focus on happy, positive and sometimes inane news. Fidesz MP Mrs. Judit Bertalan Czunyi takes the cake. This morning she posted photos of her snowy front lawn and driveway, writing: “This morning’s work-out was modified to include snow shoveling. And in a short one and a quarter hours, I get to start it all again. I love living in a village!” The three sentences included three emoticons. When Index posted its article on this sudden change in heart to Facebook, it included an English-language caption: “Everything is awesome!”
The one place where anti-Soros hysteria still lives is in Parliament’s National Security Committee. The opposition wanted to discuss the OLAF report on systemic Fidesz corruption, but Fidesz’s Szilárd Németh and his colleagues did not permit this discussion to proceed, referring once again the Bernadett Szél as a Soros lackey.
Fidesz is scrambling to adopt a new strategy less than forty days before national elections. It intends to focus on a more positive campaign and message, promoting what it feels are all the achievements of the past eight years. It would appear that the intensely negative campaigns of the last years, particularly the increasingly absurd anti-Soros campaign, irked Hungarian voters, including those who previously cast ballots for Fidesz, and motivated them to vote against the governing party. The anti-Soros campaign reached its surreal apex just days before the Hódmezővásárely election, when Hungary’s Minister of Agriculture, Sándor Fazekas, suggested that Mr. Soros and his “plan” would destroy Hungarian gastronomy and promote the consumption of insects and grilled scorpions in Hungary.
The day after the election defeat, Fidesz publicists like András Bencsik and Zsolt Bayer broke ranks with the party and publicly demanded an end to the hysterical anti-Soros campaign, which had become the butt of jokes. “I think this elementary school level Soros campaign has to stop. This was cute, but Hungarian society is more intelligent than this,” said Mr. Bencsik.
Republikon published the results of its February poll today–data was collected after the Elios corruption scandal broke, in which the Orbán family is directly implicated, but before the surprise opposition win on Sunday. According to this poll, Fidesz support has dropped by 9 points since December, while the Hungarian Socialist Party – Párbeszéd alliance (MSZP-P) gained 6 points during the same period. In fact, every opposition party, including Jobbik, the Democratic Coalition and Politics Can Be Different has seen a rise in its fortunes, while Fidesz appears to be on a downward trajectory.
Here are the results (compared to January figures):
- Fidesz: 48% ( -5)
- Jobbik: 19% (+1)
- MSZP: 17% (+3)
- DK: 6% (+1)
- LMP 5% (+1)
Gábor Török, a conservative political analyst previously with close ties to both Fidesz and Jobbik, commented that Fidesz has entered its period of decline. He predicted that on 8th April, Fidesz is likely to win between 95 and 110 seats in the 199-seat parliament. He calculated that the opposition must win between 40 t0 50 electoral districts to rob Fidesz of a majority in parliament. What seemed impossible just a few years ago is no longer science fiction. “The ball is no longer in Fidesz’s court,” remarked Mr. Török, adding that Fidesz has no viable strategy other than to mobilize its well-organized camp–a camp that it appears unable to grow, particularly when faced with a suddenly emboldened opposition.