Parliamentary elections 2014: Who won the villages?

Parliamentary elections 2014: Who won the villages?

A Policy Agenda research

The country has been divided into three parts in consideration of the results of the parliamentary elections. The forces between the governing parties and the parties composing the government changing association are balanced in Budapest. The left-wing parties, however, represent only the third force in the villages. Policy Agenda has examined the high difference between the villages and the capital and what might have influenced voters.

Villages where the government-changing association is only the third force

Policy Agenda has processed the figures of three counties with different part preferences, economic and geographical situation in order to have an in-depth examination of the votes cast in villages, by going down into the voting districts.

In Vas County located by the western border with relatively good economic position, the number of village voters was approx. 84 thousand. In Vas county 40% of citizens with voting right live in villages that is to say the party preferences living there define the results of the elections basically. In the small villages of Vas county Fidesz-KDNP acquired 58% while the government-changing association acquired 15.6% of the votes. Jobbik (extreme right-wing party) came second with its 19.7% safely in the same villages. LMP (“Politics Can be Different”, a green party) – that has just exceeded the parliamentary entrance threshold at country-level – acquired only 3.7% of the votes in this area which is much below the entrance threshold.

The situation of individual candidates is not different either. The candidates of MSZP (socialist party) had a better result to some extent (by 0.7%) than the votes cast to the shared list of the associated parties. The individual candidates of Fidesz acquired votes less by 0.3% than their country-level party list while the country-list of Jobbik was marked by an X by 0.1% more than its individual candidates.

The minor parties did not receive many votes for. The remaining 14 parties received totally 2.9% of the votes for – the four parties composing the current parliament excluded – that is much worse than the country-level figure.

Our second examined county was Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg where 45% of citizens with voting right live in villages. Fidesz-KDNP received 54.4% of the votes for in such villages. It is not surprising that Jobbik came second with its 26.1% while the government changing forces acquired only 15.3% and LMP acquired 1.2% of the votes for. The second place of Jobbik was not surprising either because opposite to Vas County, here this extreme right-wing party came second in all the voting districts that is to say including towns. Opposite to this result, in Vas County the left-wing shared association of parties was able to work over its loss in towns and remained the second force over the whole county.

It is interesting to mention that while a minimal difference could be shown between the votes for individual candidates and the party list in Vas County, this difference can be ignored completely in Szabolcs County.

The third examined area was Csongrád County. Its situation is special because except for Miskolc town, it is the only county where the individual candidate of the government changing forces was able to win. This voting district might be in Szeged but its social composition is different from the composition of villages. 24.4% of citizens with voting right live in villages in this county and from this aspect the proportion of voters living in villages is the lowest compared to the other two examined counties.

In Csongrád County, the government changing association came second owing to the votes acquired in the county headquarters (Szeged) and towns. However, the shared party list could be only the third force in villages in this county. The victory of Fidesz-KDNP was undeniable by their 49.4% while Jobbik acquired 23.1%. The left-wing parties came third by their 18.7% while LMP could not have been able to enter the parliament with its 4.5% here either.

In the villages of Csongrád county there is no important difference between the votes cast for individual candidates and party lists. The candidates of the government changing parties mean the difference because their individual candidates received votes for by 1.4% more than with the party list.

What is behind the expansion of Jobbik?

We have analysed the figures of the elections generated in villages from the aspect of their social situation. We “have projected” the figures of the registered unemployed at village-level of March to the results of the election. We have used this parameter because it includes people living on grants (regular social grant, grant replacing employment), constant unemployed and people that receive job-search grant.

The figures show interesting contexts. Regarding the proportions of Fidesz, it has achieved the best results in villages in the best situation and in the worst situation. It has achieved the worst results in villages which are in the average situation from this aspect.

For MSZP, the best results are owing to villages where the proportion of registered unemployed and people living on grants is low. While it has achieved the worst results where the social problems are the most serious.

The most surprising is that – as the figures show – the true terrain of Jobbik is where the crisis is the deepest. This party has achieved far the worst results where there are relatively less helpless people living in a difficult situation.

It should be admitted: the left-wing parties did not have a message for the poor

Almost all political analysers share the opinion that the main reason for the beating of the left-side is that they were not able to talk to the poor which is confirmed by the figures of the villages as well. If we project the main messages of the campaign to village-dwelling voters based on their media consumption habits then the reason for the problem can be seen clearly.

Previous analyses also proved that most of village-dwellers acquire information from the two commercial television channels and the public service media. Policy Agenda has analysed continuously since February what topics rule such channels from political aspects. If we compare the matters advantageous to left-wing parties to the problems of village-dwellers then no concordance can be found.

It is because in the two months before the elections the case of Paks 2 (planned nuclear power station) and the connected contract concluded with the Russians, the dispute generated in connection with the Holocaust memorial year, the election abuses (fake parties, the criticism of the election system) and the real estate matter of Rogán Antal were topics of no interest for village-dwellers.

The 8 promises of the government changing parties must have been relevant to people living in small villages but these parties were unable to transfer such promises to public talk and into the mass media. The consequence was that such messages were melting and only people using the Internet could learn about them. Merely a few of village-dwellers use the Internet.

Fidesz did not have many messages to village-dwellers either. At the same time, the reduction of current expenses and the promise to continue it meant an evident help or at least its feeling. The maintenance of labour service in masses held out as a promise for village-dwellers that at least there would be some work even for starvation wages.

The expansion of Jobbik in village can be explained by several causes existing at the same time. On the first hand, the image of a party exempt of scandals and having a professional programme was developed via the public service media that could touch village-dwellers by its order-party messages clearly. At the same time the image of Jobbik is living that it has not governed yet so far that is why it is clean or at least, it seems to be like that. The third cause was that it tried to word an alternative against Fidesz opposite to the left-wing parties. To simplify what has been said so far: Jobbik was regarded as a government-changing force by dwellers living in villages in the worst situation instead of the association of the left-wing parties.

It is an error for the left side to think that they would be able to stop Jobbik by selecting better candidates and to get closer to Fidesz. It is clear that there is a minimal difference between the votes cast for individual candidates and country-wide lists. Moreover, left-wing candidates were better than their respective parties from this aspect.

Figures show that the left-side needs new messages the contents of which are different from the messages used in Budapest and in big cities. They also need communication channels that are out of the control of the governing party. This is a much more difficult task than renewing the contents of messages.