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Orban goes on conquering the Hungarian youth

orban hungary von der leyen politics elections 2022

This article is a translation of a investigative journalism italian site, Inside over, which we found interesting, with a few minor modifications thanks to our Hungarian writer  : https://it.insideover.com/politica/fidesz-alla-conquista-della-gioventu-ungherese.html

The Fidesz experiment will be put to the test of history in 2022, the year in which the most important parliamentary elections in the history of post-communist Hungary will take place. The election will not involve party formations led by post-ideological bureaucrats and politicians, as is now the case in much of the post-historic West, but forces representing two opposing and incompatible visions.

On one side will be Fidesz, the party of Hungarian nationalism, multipolarity and Christian solidarity, which Viktor Orban has turned into the reference point of the conservative international and one of the most unapologetic rivals of Germany’s sprawling and pervasive hegemony within the European Union. On the other side of the fence will be the opposition in its (almost) entirety, because the Democratic Coalition, Dialogue for Hungary, Jobbik – the former right wing turned lib-commie, LMP, Momentum and the Socialist Party have signed an iron pact – already  sealed with success in local elections– to present a single maxi-list in the expectation of putting an end to the Orban epic and erasing every trace of it through legislative and referendum repeals and diplomatic realignments. In the middle, between Fidesz and the liberal opposition, Joe Biden’s United States will be wedged; because the existence of right-wing populism will also be at stake in Budapest. Only Mi Hazánk Mozgalom, MHM, the new true right wing party, and the joke Two Tails Dog party will not take part to this coalition.

Fidesz, in order to avoid the encirclement and increase its victory changes,  has started to give more attention to youth and universities, two electoral basins of fundamental importance and whose mobilisation will prove decisive.

Fidesz, the least voted party among young people, for the moment. 

Orban’s vision is disseminated in the Magyar society through TV stations, the press and new media dependent on and/or close to Fidesz, which also has a youth organisation, Fidelitas. The results of the communication strategy – and, of course, of Fidesz’s domestic and international successes – have enabled the party to win the 2010, 2014 and 2018 parliamentary elections, but demographic trends work against Orban’s dreams of lasting hegemony.

The numbers need no interpretation and are clear : Fidesz, in the 2018 parliamentary and 2019 municipal elections, was the major party least voted for by voters in the 18-30 age group, from which it received 37% and 25% of the vote respectively.

Two opinion polls carried out in universities during 2020 by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences confirmed the existence of a voting trend unfavourable to Fidesz, but the conclusions pave the way for a possible reversal. The popularity of Orban’s party is second only to Momentum and the gap is negligible: 16% against 15.5%. In third place is Jobbik, which is supported by 14% of Hungarian university students.

The ‘rejuvenating cure

What the Hungarian press called Fidesz’s ‘rejuvenating cure’, i.e. the strategy to win over the youth, began to be implemented in the second half of last year, after a period of post-election reflection and in the light of the polls, and is based on the following pillars: revisiting the structure of Fidelitas, ageing the party ranks, using young and charismatic politicians to reach the Y and Z generations, seeking alliances with the churches and the world of scouting, and greater exposure in the universities.

Momentum and Jobbik are the political parties most present in Hungarian universities, in terms of associations, organisations and activism, but their duopoly has started to come under increasing pressure from Fidesz. This is the case, for example, of the Mathias Corvinum Collegium, whose reputation as a historical incubator of activists and politicians has spurred the ruling party “to invest billions of forints […] in recent months” within the structure. The background to this money shower, essentially sent in the form of donations, is the appointment of Balazs Orban, secretary of state in the prime minister’s office, as chairman of the college’s steering committee, which took place last July.

The rejuvenating cure could work, as according to Istvan Tozsa, an eminent geographer at Corvinus University in Budapest, the Magyar people tend to be conservative and “the students’ resistance stems from a lack of knowledge and susceptibility to manipulation”. Fidesz, according to Tozsa, ‘has not lost the young people, who only need to grow up’.

In short, there would be nothing anti-historical about the rejuvenating cure: Hungarian conservatism has traditionally enjoyed high and uniform levels of consensus and the decline in recent years would be attributable to the success of liberal forces in hegemonising culture, education and information, three spheres that Fidesz is now trying to regain in a race against time.

 

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