The opposition can’t yet sway the masses, but Fidesz may gradually awaken the left-wing base from its deep slumber. Just in case, the left leaning parties and organisations are vying to offer them a wide and growing selection of leaders and organisations.
It is true that when it comes to organising mass gatherings, Fidesz is unrivalled. The most potent and often invoked demonstration of this power was a mass rally in front of Parliament in 2002, before the second round of the election, when Fidesz sought to – almost successfully – reverse a surprising second place finish in the first round. The party stated proudly for years that “1.5-2 million people” (i.e. 15-20% of the total population and 65-85% of its voters) had attended the rally – a vastly exaggerated claim and a superfluous aggrandizement at that, since whatever the real number, it was clearly the largest mass demonstration in post-transition history.
For some time, the mantra on the left was that Fidesz was better at bringing people to the streets, while MSZP-SZDSZ were more successful at drawing them to the polls. Well, the joke is no longer on Fidesz.
Only two of the three announced opposition demonstrations have taken place thus far, those of LMP and the Demokratikus Charta (Democratic Charter), a civic organisation tied to former PM and MSZP politician Ferenc Gyurcsány. MSZP’s own rally will be held at the end of November.
In what is still presumably the country’s liberal bastion, Budapest, the Charta drew a few thousand people and LMP a couple of hundred. While these numbers are not bad as compared to previous left-wing demonstrations, they are clearly underwhelming in light of both, the urgency of the issue and the social base of these organisations.
Policy Solutions' analysis on the street protests of the left-leaning parties can be downloaded from here.
Policy Solutions is a progressive political research institute based in Budapest. It was founded in 2008 and it is committed to the values of liberal democracy, solidarity, equal opportunity and European integration. The focus of Policy Solutions’ work is on understanding political processes in Hungary and the European Union. Among the pre-eminent areas of our research are the investigation of how the quality of democracy evolves, the analysis of factors driving euroscepticism, populism and the far-right, and election research.
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