Hungary’s Opposition Pulls Ahead as Virus, Scandals Weaken Orban

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Support for Hungary’s opposition surpassed that of the ruling Fidesz party in three opinion polls, casting doubt on the perceived invincibility of Prime Minister Viktor Orban as he gears up to run for a fifth term.

The economic slump triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and a string of scandals are hurting Fidesz’s popularity, while mainstream opposition parties are gaining after uniting for the first time before the next election in 2022, according to surveys published this month by Zavecz Research, Publicus and Median.

Hungary’s Opposition Pulls Ahead as Virus, Scandals Weaken Orban

Orban has long kept his opponents in check with methods that the European Union has deemed increasingly incompatible with the bloc’s democratic norms. While he managed to delay a move last week tying EU funding to rule-of-law conditions, the numbers suggest risks to Orban’s rule may lie closer to home.

“Support for the government and the opposition is flipping,” said Tibor Zavecz, head of Zavecz Research. “Fidesz is gradually dropping and this is mostly due to the virus’s economic impact and the perception that the government isn’t handling the crisis as well it should.”

Fidesz has lost almost 500,000 supporters since August in Hungary, a country of 8 million voters, according to Zavecz. An average of 34% of eligible voters back the opposition, compared with 31% for Fidesz, data from the three pollsters shows.

A looser alliance of opposition parties in last year’s local elections dealt Fidesz its worst electoral setback in a decade as he lost key cities including Budapest.

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