The Hungarian Greens or the ‘Lehet Mas a Politica’ (LMP) as they are known, are preparing to take on the incumbent Fidesz party of Hungary. The elections are set to begin in April or May of 2022, and the result will bring changes to the parliament and to the prime minister. Fidesz is the radical right wing party run by the polarizing prime minister Viktor Orban.

Many academics and journalists have noted the decline of Hungary’s democratic norms under Orban’s leadership. The US based NGO Freedom House has rated it as ‘party-free’, making it the only EU country to fall into this category. The opposing political parties are worried it has become an illiberal democracy.

Six of the opposing political parties have joined together to create a coalition, the ‘Opposition Electoral Alliance’, they will run joint candidates in every riding. These parties are from all over the ideological spectrum, both left and right, and the LMP as well. The coalition has decided to back a traditional right leaning candidate named Peter Marki-Zay.

The coalition are united in their beliefs that Hungary is not a democratic country anymore. In the last election in 2018, the LMP won 5 seats in the parliament with 7.1% of the vote. This was their highest result in an election yet, but their drive to beat Fidesz has led them to forgo independent success and join the coalition.

The polls in the run up to the election looked close, with Fidesz up 48% to the coalition’s 46%. Gabor Eross of the LMP said, “This is what we need: three and a half more points then Fidesz”. The coalition is polling well and has spooked Fidesz and Orban.

On January 1st, a new ruling has come into force which allows all Hungarians living abroad to vote if they claim residency in the country. In the 2018 elections, a similar strategy was employed by Fidesz. Where citizens aboard could claim residency despite dilapidated or fictitious property. The opposition now plans to challenge these new rules in court.

In 2018, the results were found to be fraudulent by independent NGOs, as many of the address were fake. The difference with this new rule change is that now residents living abroad do not have to show proof of residency. In the surrounding European nations many of the ethnic Hungarians support Orban and Fidesz.

Orban has also received some unusual support from the West. Former President Trump stated, “he has done a powerful and wonderful job protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so”.

The election is still some months away and if the coalition successfully overturns these new rules in court, it will give them a much greater chance to win the election and ultimately restore democratic principles to Hungary.

Eliot Heiss

Eliot is a researcher, editor, and podcast host specializing in international relations and environmental politics. He graduated with an MA in Political Science from the Universität Salzburg, Austria and a BA in Political Science from the University of Victoria, Canada.

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