Hungary’s PM Orban spends heavily on smear campaign ahead of April 3 election
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has a slim lead in the polls over his challenger Peter Marki-Zay ahead of the April 3 general election with Orban-dominated media coverage appearing to be having an impact.
His Fidesz party has deeper pockets, spending three times as much on social media advertising as the broad, six-party opposition coalition.
Fidesz recorded a two-point lead this month over the opposition, according to pollster Zavecz Research.
It estimated the opposition parties at 36 per cent, down five points since November, and Fidesz on 38 per cent.
Zavecz said two fringe parties, the Two-Tailed Dog Party and far-right Mi Hazank (Our Homeland) had gained support since November but had not reached the 5-per-cent threshold to enter parliament.
Marki-Zay, 49, has seven children to 58-year-old Orban’s five and is facing a smear campaign.
Street posters and YouTube adverts depict him as “mini-Feri”, in reference to the former Socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, whose DK party has joined the opposition coalition.
The alliance also includes the Democratic Coalition, liberals and the former far-right and now centre-right Jobbik.
Marki-Zay’s campaign is being operated on a shoestring as he is driven around Hungary by his wife and his social media content is uploaded by his children.
Fidesz accuses him of denigrating women, pensioners and insulting Orban supporters in a concerted smear campaign.
Hungary and Poland are turning increasingly authoritarian, Berlin-based Civil Liberties Union
a rights group, reported this week.
The group, which brings together rights groups from 17 EU countries, said the two Central European states were “seizing further control of the justice system, civil society and media, while cutting basic human rights and fuelling divisions by scapegoating migrants and other minority groups”.
In Hungary, Orban is underlining his strong ties with other populist leaders.
Brazil’s divisive president, Jair Bolsonaro, is due to visit this week and Orban recently met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump is rumoured to be planning a visit to the Orban campaign.
In the 2018 general election, Fidesz received 2.8 million votes, compared to a total of 2.7 million for all the opposition parties with a 70-per-cent turnout.
The government smear campaigns appear to be affecting public opinion.
“We really dislike him. We’re not political at all, but those things he says, how he insults the voters,” a woman told the BBC in Mako where Marki-Zay was meeting voters.
“There’s no ink on Earth that could print what I think of him,” said a stallholder in the town.
Peter Marki-Zay. Picture credit: YouTube