New Hungarian government upon landslide victory of FIDESZ-KDNP and the Hungarian Council Presidency in 2011

Krisztina Vida
The most important topic currently discussed in Hungary is the incoming government and its programme. In April 2010, after two electoral rounds, the Hungarian Civic Union and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (FIDESZ-KDNP FIDESZ-KDNP) alliance won over two-thirds of the seats in the Hungarian (single chamber) parliament. These elections were almost revolutionary in the sense that no such landslide victory was achieved by any party or party alliance since 1990, the first democratic elections after the systemic change. This means that the incoming government has huge popular support, a very strong legitimacy and also the immense responsibility to lead the country out of the crisis. This support and legitimacy is of course accompanied by high expectations. Actually, during the eight years of socialist (and for a long time socialist-liberal) ruling, most of Hungary’s macroeconomic indicators had a deteriorating trend, in spite of the favourable economic environment in Europe. Thus, Hungary seemed to be the only new member state that, prior to the global crisis, could not really benefit from EU accession in terms of catching up. At the same time, during the past couple of years, corruption reached unprecedented levels, involving the highest layers of politicians. Moreover, due to belated and harsh austerity measures, the level of key public services (such as schooling, health care, internal security) continued to decrease.
All these phenomena led to a paradigm shift in Hungarian internal politics. Beyond the already mentioned victory of FIDESZ-KDNP, there are now three smaller factions in parliament, two of which are brand new political forces, while the two biggest parties leading the country into parliamentary democracy in 1990, the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), were both wiped out by the electorate. As for the two new parties, the Politics Can Be Different party (LMP) is a liberal-minded political group with a strong emphasis on environmental protection, while the extreme-right Jobbik is a radical and Euro-sceptic party (also represented in the European Parliament). The third and biggest party in opposition is the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), which lost the recent elections and shrunk in size significantly. Thus, in the 386 member Hungarian parliament, the distribution of seats is as follows: FIDESZ-KDNP: 263, MSZP: 59, Jobbik: 47, LMP: 16 and 1 independent.

Another topical issue is the nearing Hungarian Council Presidency to be held in the first half of 2011. Beyond the “inherited” topics on the agenda, there is one particular issue that Hungary will advocate. This is actually a new approach to regionalism: the European Danube Strategy. Although emphasis is put on better water management, this Strategy embraces various priorities such as environment protection, or regional development and cooperation. This Strategy is wholeheartedly promoted by the biggest umbrella organisation for “green values”, namely, the National Council for Sustainable Development. As it pointed out in a recent position paper, it supports “the endeavour according to which Hungary feels great responsibility and commitment towards the successful preparation of the Strategy, with special regard to the circumstance that the adoption thereof in the European Council will expectedly take place in the first half of 2011, which may be an outstanding achievement of the Hungarian EU Presidency due at that time.”[1]

[1] Euractiv: Hungary to push water policy overhaul at EU helm, 14 April 2010, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).