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It is rumoured that Istvan Mikola, Fidesz's former candidate for deputy prime minister, will be forced to resign his seat representing Fidesz in Fejer county. It is an impressive performance: in just two weeks Mikola changed from 'doctor to the nation' to the leper of the right.

I do not intend to analyse Dr Mikola's mistakes, though they certainly contributed to Fidesz's defeat by playing into the Socialist Party's hands. Nonetheless, his unguarded comments are much more a symptom of Fidesz's defeat, not its cause.

It was clear even before the elections that tiny swings would determine the outcomes in most constituencies. It was clear that the winning party would be the one that could stand convincing candidates in individual consituencies, backing them up with an acceptable and credible party manifesto.

Sun Wu, a character in Sun Tsu's famous ancient Chinese manual of war,

said: "The one who makes no mistakes will see his efforts lead to victory, and he will be victorious over those who have already suffered defeat." There were many people I spoke with during the election period who could not shake off a sense that something was wrong with Fidesz's campaign. "It's like they don't really want to win," some of them said. If Sun Tsu were with us today, perhaps he would agree that the right had lost the elections before the campaign even started.

Polling before the start of the campaign should have told Fidesz that people did not want to be whipped up into a panic by the elections.

People were not interested in stark confrontations or negative campaigning. People wanted to feel things were ok, that they were safe. It is too early to say why Fidesz ignored this, whether out of compulsiveness, because of poor analysts, or because their campaign staff simply did not understand. But their slogan, 'We are worse off than four years ago,' was wholly uneffective, as was clear a few days after it first appeared, and thus ill-suited for a party that hoped to win an election.

Voters regarded this gloomy campaign as a joke, and creative graphic designers came up with dozens of parodies of those cheerless Fidesz posters. Eventually, even Istvan Hiller, the Socialist Party's president, joined this parade of parodists. At his party's conference he quoted Ms Janos Fata, the unhappy subject of one of Fidesz's posters, who had talked about how the photographers had tried to make her look ever more depressed.

This was a problem for Fidesz, partly because most people felt they were doing better than four years before, and partly because it underlined the credibility of the right-wing party grouping. For in the second part of its campaign, Fidesz needed that credibility, because its campaign had moved on to promising Hungarians a better life.

Despite consulting with 3.2m people, as Viktor Orban reminded us so many times, Fidesz did not come up with a concrete manifesto that voters could endorse. Yet this was what the National Consultation had been meant to create. By contrast, the Socialists did not talk about the people. They used carefully thought-out key words, like future, building, motorway, jobs, education and investment. Furthermore, they had detailed plans for each constituency, so voters new what they could expect in their neighbourhood. These key words was much more effective than Fidesz's much vaguer battlecry of 'work, home, family.'

It went further: the Socialists talked euphimistically of a 'package of economic measures', involving spending cuts to get rid of the budget deficit. But this seemed both more acceptable and more comprehensible than the uncertainty that surrounded Fidesz's plans. Voters chose the clarity of the lesser evil over persisting uncertainty. And then there was Fidesz's style, which many thought unacceptable.

They promised too much, they told obvious lies, they pushed at the boundaries of legality during the campaign. But these are just illustrations of the confusion that led them to prescribe Dr Mikola as a cure for the nation. It was not the nomination of the loud-mouthed doctor that caused Fidesz's defeat: for that, a whole regiment of losers was needed.

Zoltán Meixner

HVG English version

Capital reconstruction

In 1982, I wrote an article commemorating the 75th anniversary of Frigyes Podmaniczky's death, in which I bemoaned the absence of an old-style Metropolitan Works Council (FKT). The article was picked up upon by the leaders of the Metropolitan Council. Three years later, Laszlo Siklossy's outstanding work "How Budapest was built" about the FKT's first sixty years, was reissued. The publisher asked me to write an afterword. When I submitted it, the publisher said: "This is no afterword! This is a manifesto!" I explained this was all I could offer. The book appeared several months later, without my afterword.

hvg.hu English version

Expurgated catastrophe communication

Moral regime change cannot be completed until all the Chernobil files have been released. Unfortunately, many of the people referred to in them are still with us. The files should be opened up: Hungarians have the right to know who was responsible for the way in which the world's worst ever nuclear catastrophe was dealt with here in Hungary.

HVG English version

Interview with Balazs Babel

"A Christian who does not vote is a sinner," claims Balazs Babel, Archbishop of Kalocsa-Kecskement. The 56-year-old priest, who does not deny his party bias, believes a good Catholic is a right-wing voter, and only someone who suffers from "an inconquerable ignorance" votes for the Left. Babel also defends the the antisemitic Bishop Ottokar Prohaszka.

hvg.hu English version

"Everything is in control"

The message from Fidesz headquarters is that Viktor Orban is in control: there is no rival who would even contemplate questioning his leadership. But if, as expected, he loses the elections, he could be vulnerable.

HVG English version

Slight advantage for the left

"We have to reach a deal with the MDF at all costs," Viktor Orban was told by several local party leaders, the HVG has learned. Even Viktor Orban himself cannot be allowed to get in the way. The first round of the elections brought the Socialist party and its coalition party a slight advantage.

hvg.hu English version

What about the next months?

The next few months in Hungarian politics are going to be very interesting. If the coalition wins, then it will have to dig the country out of the hole it spent the last four years leading the country into. If Fidesz loses, the party will face structural and personnel changes. If Ibolya David sticks to her current possition, adopting the role of a constructive opposition, then she will be in a dreadfully lonely position.

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