Percről percre 2019 European Elections: Record-high turnout in Hungary

Hungary is electing its 21 MEPs today in the 2019 European Elections. All polling organisations agree that governing party Fidesz is looking at yet another major victory, the real contest is for the second place between Jobbik, MSZP, and DK. Two smaller parties, LMP and Momentum are fighting to pass the 5% electoral threshold, forecasts show that the latter has a good chance of securing a mandate. Turnout is at a record high, 37.06% of eligible voters had already cast their ballots at 5:00 PM.
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  • With the results out and the press conferences over, Index in English is finishing the live coverage of Hungary's European Elections. Here are some of Index's conclusions drawn from tonight:

    • Budapest remained in opposition: Fidesz only managed to get 41% of the votes in the capital, which is a slight decrease compared to their results in the 2018 general elections. The DK, MSZP, and Momentum together received more votes in the Budapest than Fidesz.
    • DK is the second most powerful party of Hungary: Ferenc Gyurcsány's party finished second nationwide and in all counties.
    • Momentum has large support in Budapest: Momentum managed to beat DK and finish second in eight Budapest districts.
    • Momentum broke through in the countryside as well: They finished third in eleven counties out of the twenty, and fourth in four counties, but they have managed to perform above the 5% electoral threshold everywhere.
    • Jobbik disappeared, but voters didn't move to Mi Hazánk: Jobbik has lost a tremendous amount of support in little over the year - after receiving more than a million votes in 2018, only 220 thousand people voted for them today, but it's hard to tell for which party all those people traded Jobbik - Mi Hazánk, formed by dissenters leaving Jobbik, only received 113 thousand votes. Jobbik was never strong in Budapest, but even sarcastic Two-Tailed Dog Party managed beat them in the capital (Jobbik: 3.18%, Two-Tailed Dog Party: 3.83%)
    • The 2010 opposition is gone: Opposition voters do not care for MSZP, LMP, and Jobbik anymore, as together, they barely received 15% of the votes. The sole survivor seems to be former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who might represent the era before 2010, but his party DK is the real surprise of this election with their 16% result securing four seats in the European Parliament.
    • Fidesz is still unbeatable, but they've had better results: The 1.7 million people voting for Fidesz was more than enough for them to win this election, but they've mobilised 2.8 million people for last year's elections - though European Elections generally produce a lower turnout than general elections.
  • Péter Jakab, the lead candidate of Jobbik told journalists that the party has been "stripped of all of its financial means, many thought we would not survive this year, and Jobbik's mere existence is a victory." 

    Jakab added that the fact that fewer people voted for Jobbik makes "corrections" necessary, so they can tackle the upcoming municipal elections with "renewed force."

    Jobbik's press conference did not reveal details about the nature of these corrections, but the party's leaders will meet on Wednesday to discuss any possible changes in the party's line-up.

  • But only because that somehow paves the way to change at the municipal elections this autumn, as party president Bertalan Tóth explained, though it's unclear how, as the joint list of MSZP and Párbeszéd only received 6.68% of the votes.

    Tóth is also MSZP's lead candidate, but he will not pick up his mandate - it is unclear though, which of MSZP's candidates will go to the European Parliament instead of him - what seems sure is that it will be one of MSZP's MEPs from the previous term, Tibor Szanyi or István Ujhelyi.

    Bertalan Tóth congratulated DK and Momentum, but noted that the winner of this election is Fidesz. He added that he is proud of the cooperation of MSZP and Párbeszéd.

  • Katalin Cseh, Momentum's lead candidate held her speech at her party's election event following the announcement of the official results. She said "Momentum's existence is proof that you cannot give up, that there are miracles, and that you can build a party up from nothing." She added:

    In order to give hope back to millions of Hungarians, we need to have dreams, we need to have a vision. This is the only group with a vision. We are dreaming about a country that we will make a reality."

    Reflecting upon the victory of Fidesz, Cseh said this shows that there are still tasks ahead of Momentum: to create a country where EU funds do not land at friends of the government but at the best contenders.

    Momentum's chairman András Fekete-Győr also spoke at the event, he announced that they have received 330 000 votes, and the party will be sending two MEPs to the European Parliament, becoming the third largest political power in Hungary. 

    Fekete-Győr said Momentum has to become a party primarily concerned with healthcare, education, and people's ability to make a living. 

    "In the past few years, Momentum has been the only party that offered real solutions to the real problems of the Hungarian people. "

  • At DK's campaign event, former Prime Minister and DK's chairman said that those who wish for a stronger Europe managed to acquire a majority in the European Parliament. Ferenc Gyurcsány added that an election is not an election if press is not free, and by taking control of the media, the government has taken away society's ability to choose their representatives freely. The stake of this election according to DK's chairman was Fidesz's two-thirds majority, which they have lost along with a million voters. Gyurcsány noted that DK's campaign was about "real things," they did not walk into the trap Fidesz set by pushing the topic of migration.

    DK's lead candidate Klára Dobrev promised to work for a United States of Europe. She also mentioned that she will further the cause of protecting the environment, and she will focus on social issues.

  • At Fidesz's election event, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said: "Europe is our home too, and that is why we want to change it". He thanked all the people who have worked hard on their campaign and announced Fidesz's victory. Orbán assessed that it was a historic victory at the 2019 European election that had a record-breaking turnout, which shows Hungarians belong in Europe. Orbán said that the EP elections are a way for Hungarians to reunite their nation, as they can represent Hungary's interests together with the Hungarians living beyond the country's borders.

    He said that the Hungarian voters have given Fidesz a mission to protect Europe and the Christian culture in Europe, and it became apparent that people in Hungary think that changes have to be made in Brussels and that the EU needs leaders that are proud of the 2000-year-old Christian culture.

    Orbán finished by saying that Fidesz will cooperate with "anyone who wants to put a stop to migration", and he promised he will do anything in his power to preserve the unity of the nation that the elections have expressed.

  • Fidesz: 13, DK: 4, Momentum: 2, Jobbik, MSZP: 1-1
    These are the projected mandates published by the National Election Office, with 99% of the votes counted. Here are the detailed results:

    1. FIDESZ-KDNP - Number of votes: 1 777 757, percentage: 52.14%
    2. DK (Democratic Coaliton) - Number of votes: 544 286, percentage: 16.26%
    3. Momentum - Number of votes: 338 314, percentage: 9,92%
    4. MSZP-Párbeszéd - Number of votes: 227 786, percentage: 6,68%
    5. Jobbik - Number of votes: 219 539, percentage: 6,44%
    6. Mi Hazánk - Number of votes: 113 529, percentage: 3,33%
    7. MKKP (Two-Tailed Dog Party) - Number of votes: 89 635, percentage: 2,63%
    8. LMP (Politics can be Different) - Number of votes: 74 554, percentage: 2,19%
    9. Munkáspárt (Labour) - Number of votes: 14 385, percentage: 0,42%
  • Spokesperson of LMP, Máté Kanász-Nagy told journalists that LMP does not plan to cede its operation, and they are ready to elect their new leaders in June. It is uncertain if the party's now resigned leadership will enter into the contest for the available positions. 

    Lead candidate Gábor Vágó said that their campaign against climate change was a success since DK and Momentum have taken this topic from them. He doesn't think it was a mistake to center their campaign on this single issue, and he does not regret that the party did not talk about other topics such as migration.

    This result is a defeat, but we'll have to fight for our ecopolitical goals, and we need to regain our credibility that we have not lost in this campaign, but last year." He added that voters have punished the entirety of the opposition for failing to cooperate at the 2018 general elections.

  • Anna Donáth is the second candidate on Momentum's list. This video shows her with lead candidate Katalin Cseh as they finds out that the preliminary results show Momentum gaining 9% of the vote, meaning Donáth is likely to be Momentum's second MEP.

  • As LMP's spokesperson hinted at it about an hour ago, all leaders of LMP resigned: Co-presidents Márta Demeter and László Keresztes, secretary Máté Kanász-Nagy, and other officials, Mária Hajdú, László Józsa, János Kendernay, Kálmán Kis-Szeniczey, Miklós Pálvölgyi and Szabolcs Turán have announced at a press conference held after a short presidency meeting that they will all be stepping down.

  • Magyar Nemzet posted an update to the preliminary election results they've acquired: Now, with 88% of the votes counted, Fidesz only has 53% (13 seats), DK now stands at 16% (4 seats), Momentum has 9% (2 seats), and Jobbik and MSZP both seem to have received 7% of the vote (1 seat for each).

  • Jobbik's spokesman told journalists that the party's greatest success is the fact that it still survives:

    György Szilágyi said:

    Fidesz wanted to wipe us off the face of the Earth, but they couldn't.

    The spokesman added that they are happy with any result, as, throughout the past year, they have been fighting for their party's continued existence. Szilágyi said attempts to wipe Jobbik out include the huge fines imposed on the party by the State Audit Office, and Fidesz's media campaign which resulted in more than 200 libel suits against pro-government media.

    Szilágyi tried his best to explain somehow why the expected results are not that bad for Jobbik: He said even if the party performs worse than their 2018 general election result, Jobbik will still remain the strongest opposition party, as this is "a different election method."

  • Máté Kanász-Nagy, LMP's spokesperson was happy to see the high turnout, but he said that LMP probably did not pass the 5% electoral threshold. He said that it's obvious that LMP was punished by the voters, and this will have consequences for the leadership of the party: resignations are expected. He added that this punishment is not a reaction to the party's EP campaign, but to the internal mess that characterised the party throughout 2018. The voters did not forget all the expulsions and the many members quitting the party, the spokesperson told Index.

  • Our colleague at MSZP's election event reports that the mood is gloomy at Villányi road, where MSZP awaits the election results. Tamás Harangozó, deputy leader of the party's parliamentary group told Index that the exit poll results are no surprise, they pretty much confirm 90% of the predictions made before the elections, and he does not expect today's election to change the cooperation agreements already made for the upcoming Hungarian municipal elections - according to Harangozó, the results only prove that opposition parties are forced to work together, and there are no alternatives to having a single opposition candidate in each constituency in the autumn.

  • According to information acquired by pro-government political daily Magyar Nemzet, at 36% of the ballots counted, Fidesz received 55% of the votes and is likely to win 14 seats, with DK coming in at second place with 14% gaining four seats, and Jobbik (7,5%), Momentum (7.5%), and MSZP (6.1%) seem to be sending one MEP each to the European Parliament.

  • The Hungarian Government's state secretary for international communication, Zoltán Kovács (yes, it IS a common name) told Hungarian public news channel M1 that the record-breaking turnout is due to people hearing the message of Fidesz. He added that this is a historic election, and explained that the foundations of European politics have changed as migration had become the new divisive factor, and Fidesz is fighting to protect Europe's Christian culture. "We will pursue national policies, and we're planning to represent Hungary in Brussels and not Brussels in Hungary," he concluded.

  • Our colleague at Momentum's election event reports that András Fekete-Győr, the party's chairman told TV2 that a high turnout is a success for democracy. As he said he is optimistic, since the party managed to mobilise its base beyond expectations, even if they could not promote themselves on posters - Fekete Győr said that the government-affiliated outdoors advertisement companies did not provide them with ad space, but as he said, "We were personally present in many places, and even I've been handing out flyers all day."

  • The results of a phone survey conducted by Nézőpont Institute today show that Fidesz could have surpassed the wildest estimates of polling organisations and could have collected as much as 56% of the votes, with left-wing parties MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) and DK (Democratic Coalition) both receiving 10%, while Jobbik gathered 9% of the votes. Youth party Momentum Movement is the surprise of the day with their 7% result granting them a spot in the European Parliament.

    If Nézőpont's numbers correct, the five parties passing the electoral threshold would share the 21 EP mandates like this:

    • Fidesz: 14 seats
    • MSZP-Párbeszéd: 2 seats
    • DK: 2 seats
    • Jobbik: 2 seats
    • Momentum: 1 seat

    Far-right Mi Hazánk Mozgalom (Our Country Movement) and green LMP (Politics can be Different) only received 3% of the vote, while 2% voted for Hungary's sarcastic Two-Tailed Dog Party.

    Nézőpont Institute's phone survey was conducted with a thousand-person representative sample.

  • At 7:00 PM, the National Election Office has begun opening the envelopes and scanning the ballots of the approximately 40 000 valid votes that arrived by mail from Hungarian citizens without a permanent residence in Hungary or any other EU state. The scans are only used for making the preliminary results available faster, but even these votes will be hand-counted for the official tally.

  • Polls in Hungary are closing now, and as reported by the National Election Office, 3,285,687 people, 41,74% of the voters have cast their ballots by 6:30 PM, which is officially a record: The highest turnout so far at a European Election in Hungary was in 2004, when 38.5% of eligible voters, 3,094,163 people had voted.

  • 2 917 423 people to be exact, which means 37,06% percent of eligible voters showed up at the polling stations. That is almost five percentage points higher than it was at 5:00 PM during Hungary's record-setting first European election in 2004, when 32.25% of those eligible voted, and almost as high as the final turnout was that year (38.50%). 

    The high turnout most likely favours governing party Fidesz, as voting districts where Fidesz has been strong in preceding elections are seeing the most voters. This is bad news for LMP and Momentum, the two smaller parties teetering on the 5% electoral threshold, as passing that threshold requires more and more votes as the turnout gets higher. But Budapest voters are active too (44% of them already voted), and that might give the two smaller parties some hope.

  • Hungarian polling organisations do not expect a surprise at the European elections in Hungary, as they assessed at a conference on Wednesday. The only open questions are who will get to finish second, and if the two smaller parties teetering on the 5% electoral threshold, LMP and Momentum will be able to secure a mandate, but all pollsters agreed on Wednesday that:

    • Fidesz is looking at another landslide victory. Dániel Nagy, the research director of Nézőpont said that Fidesz will definitely receive at least 1.3-1.4 million votes, 1.7-1.8 million at most, which is likely to be a result more than 50%. Endre Hann, the CEO of Medián said that their latest polling data shows Fidesz will receive 52% of the votes. The forecast of Századvég differs from this within the margin of error - they expect Fidesz to get 51%.
    • Turnout will be high, approximately 35-40%. Due to Fidesz's strong mobilisation and Orbán's rhetorics about the never-before-seen stakes of this year's elections, it's already apparent that more people will show up at the polling stations than last time in 2014 (29%). The researchers all agreed that turnout will surpass 30%, Nézőpont predicts 32-40%, Medián's forecast is 35-40%, and Závecz Research puts voter turnout around 38-40%. CEO of Publicus, András Pulai said that their latest survey shows a 47% possible turnout, however, he himself expects fewer people at the ballot boxes. So far, the data released by the National Election Office seem to prove the predictions right.

    With no doubt about the winner, the question concerning the second place finally gave the polling organisations something about which they could disagree. Here are the predictions:

    • Nézőpont: "Jobbik will not finish second," but it's impossible to say if DK or MSZP will, as supporters of these two parties are prone for last minute cross-voting. 
    • Závecz Research: The predicted number of votes for Jobbik is 450,000, 400,000 for MSZP-Párbeszéd, 390,000 for DK. Looking at the trends, Tibor Závecz noted that his guess is Jobbik will end up being the third of the three. The fact that Jobbik lost the largest amount of voters since 2018 and DK was the party that most successfully grew its base could very well affect the final result, though DK did actually perform worse last year than it was predicted before the 2018 general elections. 
    • Publicus: CEO András Pulai said that he would not make a guess until the numbers of their last survey ending on Wednesday are in, however, he noted that Jobbik has been getting weaker, the numbers of DK are consistently on the rise, and that could even "take some voters from MSZP too."
    • Századvég: Their latest survey predicts DK at 11%, Jobbik at 9%, MSZP-P at 7%.
    • Medián: Their forecast is the following: Jobbik 12%, MSZP-P 11%, DK 10%. CEO Endre Hann remarked that it was a good move from DK to place Klára Dobrev, university lecturer, businesswoman, and wife of Ferenc Gyurcsány at the top of their list because this could yield even better results for DK than what Medián predicts. Still, Hann maintains that Jobbik will be able to hold on to the second place.
  • This is the fourth time Hungary participates in the European Elections, and here are some quick facts to start our English coverage:

    • There are 8,008,739 people eligible to vote in the European Elections of Hungary, 7,873,125 of them are Hungarian or EU citizens residing in Hungary who can cast their ballot at one of the 10,277 domestic voting districts today. There are 3390 EU citizens who opted to vote in the Hungarian elections. 
    • 20,290 people living abroad can cast their ballot at either of the 130 Hungarian Embassies, and there are 115,324 Hungarian citizens with no permanent address in Hungary or any other EU member states eligible to vote by mail. 
    • There are 9 parties contesting for 21 seats in the European Parliament. Electoral threshold is at 5%.
    • Polling stations have opened this morning at 6:00 AM, and will be closing at 7:00 PM.
    • We will have to wait quite a long time until the results start rolling in; Polls in Italy will only be closing at 11:00 PM, and until then, official results are kept under wraps.
    • The European Parliament will start publishing the first estimated results based on available exit poll data at around 6:00 PM, and the first mandate projection at around 8:15.