Municipal by-elections were held in five county seats, nine other towns, and four Budapest districts on Sunday, with 16 declared Fidesz candidates winning 12 of their races.
Mayor Gergely Karácsony described the results as disappointing, saying that voters had “sent a message” to Hungary’s opposition parties with their votes.
However, with a remarkably low turnout of around 20% in these elections, political analysts warn against reading too much into what the results might portend for future elections.
“No far-reaching conclusions for national politics can be drawn from these results,” said Gergely Rajnai of the Center for Fair Political Analysis. Turnout is generally lower in the special elections, he said, but even more so when they are held in the summer.
Rajnai also noted that cash-strapped political parties are less able to run campaigns now, since they only receive campaign funding for parliamentary elections. As a result, many people are typically not even aware of such special elections unless they are approached by a party activist.
I would caution against drawing any long-term conclusions. These were by-elections with a particularly low turnout.
-said Andrea Virág of the Republikon Institute.
Virág cited the summer season and the less important stakes of these elections as reasons for the weak turnout, but also pointed out that politicians and voters may have become weary of campaigning. Prior to parliamentary elections in April, Hungary’s political parties had campaigned continuously since last August, she said. [Szabad Európa]