One really has to understand just how hard the Hungarian party system is to crack to fully appreciate the rapid success of Hungary’s new green party, ‘Politics Can Be Different’ (LMP). For a bunch of young and generally unknown activists, establishing a 7.5% parliamentary party from scratch was a major success, even if the political context was as favourable as it could possibly be.
There have of course been minor glitches in the LMP’s success story; the 2009 EP election result was somewhat below expectations, money was often scarce and endorsement sheets routinely posed a greater obstacle for LMP than for the better organised parties. But overall, the parliamentary election result was an impressive vindication for the party’s optimists and in the celebration the glitches were – or at least appeared – forgotten.
Much too early, it turns out, for some of these problems have returned with a vengeance now. While LMP’s performance in the upcoming municipal elections remains to be seen, regardless of the results achieved by the candidates in running, the party is so far the greatest loser of this election: in most of the country it failed to clear the higher qualification hurdles set by Fidesz and will be absent from the vast majority of county assemblies and mayoral races.
The party’s problems stem from two sources: the closed, Budapest-centred circle of its founders who lack strong ties outside the capital and LMP’s problematic relationship with money – meaning the party appears determined to abide by the official campaign finance regulations, unrealistic as they may be in the Hungarian political context, and lacks a network of stable donors to keep its operations going consistently.
Policy Solutions' analysis on why Hungary's green party, LMP has lost momentum, can be downloaded from here.
Policy Solutions is a progressive political research institute based in Budapest. It was founded in 2008 and it is committed to the values of liberal democracy, solidarity, equal opportunity and European integration. The focus of Policy Solutions’ work is on understanding political processes in Hungary and the European Union. Among the pre-eminent areas of our research are the investigation of how the quality of democracy evolves, the analysis of factors driving euroscepticism, populism and the far-right, and election research.
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