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

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.”11Eurac­tiv: Hun­gary to push water pol­i­cy over­haul at EU helm, 14 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/Hungary-to-push-water-policy-overhaul-at-EU-helm-news-442324 (last access: 17 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Eurac­tiv: Hun­gary to push water pol­i­cy over­haul at EU helm, 14 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/Hungary-to-push-water-policy-overhaul-at-EU-helm-news-442324 (last access: 17 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.