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Péter Magyar’s Tisza Party refutes decades of experience: what can we learn from the diverging polls?

In just a few weeks, Hungary’s party system has been turned upside down by Péter Magyar’s newly founded Tisza Party. Momentum has suffered the most from the surge of Magyar’s party: according to an averaging of April's opinion polls, the liberal-centrist party would not make it into the European Parliament. Fidesz’s support has also declined, but their expected number of mandates did not decrease compared to March: more than half of the parliamentary seats still seem to belong to the governing side. According to the current situation, five lists could be sending representatives to the European Parliament, but there is unusually large variation among surveys regarding whether the leading force of the opposition stands behind Péter Magyar or former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. An averaging of the polls might bring us closer to the truth.

To a lesser or greater extent, every party has lost some of its base since Péter Magyar entered the political arena – as shown by the calculations of To arrive at our results, we once again relied on the surveys of six different polling institutes.

Compared to neighbouring countries, the Hungarian party system had been characterised by stiffness: neither Jobbik, LMP, Momentum, nor Mi Hazánk could enter politics with such momentum that could earn them a mandate in their first election, not to mention MKKP (Two-tailed Dog Party), which has been waiting for a breakthrough for ten years. However, the grace scandal that eventually led to former President Katalin Novák’s resignation, as well as the emergence of Péter Magyar instantly overrode decades of experience. Three months ago, just before the turbulent week leading to the resignation of Katalin Novák, Fidesz could count on 13-14 MEP seats and another overwhelming victory, while it seemed that DK could strengthen its dominance on the opposition side.

Today, these expectations already seem very distant.

Data from the surveys conducted by

  • IDEA,
  • Medián,
  • Závecz Research,
  • Republikon,
  • Nézőpont, and
  • Iránytű Institution

in April were collected at different times, thus capturing various moments of the changes in Hungary’ party system in the wake of the Magyar-phenomenon. During this time, Péter Magyar, who has been dominating public attention for two months now, has been quite busy. He held a mass rally with hundreds of thousands of attendees at Budapest’s Kossuth Square, initiated a process of selecting parliamentary candidates through involving the public, and announced the foundation of his Tisza party after revealing the results of the latter. (Tisza is Hungary’s iconic river, and the word also stands for “Tisztelet és Szabadság”, translating to “Respect and Freedom”.) Enjoying great public interest, he then began touring the country outside of Budapest as well, making attacks on both government and – with increasing frequency ­– opposition politicians, announced that Tisza would field county lists for the local elections, and even declared his party’s entry into the municipal competition for Budapest.

The accelerating pace of events has led to a much greater than usual variation regarding party preferences in the data sets. For example, two months ago, polling institutes measured Fidesz’s support among those certain to vote between 43 and 53 per cent, and DK’s support between 11 and 20 per cent. However, currently the strength of the government parties is estimated between 33 and 50 per cent, while Gyurcsány’s DK is considered to stand somewhere between 9 and 26 per cent. In the meantime, MSZP and Párbeszéd have also joined DK’s list.

Research institute Medián’s CEO Endre Hann summarised the situation by saying that besides the political arena, the polling profession has also been stirred up. One can only hope that averaging divergent measurements in this situation could bring us closer to reality – but like last time, this is the starting point of our article.

In April, five lists were projected to receive mandates, but two are teetering heavily

The average of the published measurements shows that all parties have weakened with the appearance of Tisza, which had not been present a month earlier – although these results are within margins of error. Among those certain to vote, Fidesz stood at an average of 47 per cent in February, which dropped to 43.5 per cent by March due to the grace scandal. In April, this figure further declined to 41.3 per cent.

The last time Fidesz’s support had been at such a low point before an election was during the parliamentary vote of 2002 (even at the time of the 2006 defeat, Fidesz reached 42 per cent). If the current situation persists, it would mean the party’s worst ever result in a European Parliament election. Nevertheless, according to the averaged surveys, the government side can still be expected to get more than half of the parliamentary seats allocated to Hungary. reported at the end of March that the clemency scandal may have cost Fidesz two of its EP mandates, but at the time no opposition force managed to truly capitalise on the growing dissatisfaction – back then it was Momentum and MKKP that could somewhat turn the situation to their favour.

However, the emergence of Tisza has completely disrupted existing power dynamics – albeit primarily on the opposition side.


After averaging the data, Fidesz can still count on 11 mandates, but it’s worth noting that this number was 11.7 a month ago and 12.7 two months ago. Thus, according to April’s surveys, the list led by Tamás Deutsch will bring two fewer parliamentary seats to Fidesz-KDNP than they currently have in this cycle, but their expected number of mandates has not decreased further compared to March.

So far, Péter Magyar’s advance entails territorial gains within the opposition side, but opinions diverge greatly on its extent, as the surveys differ the most in identifying the strongest opposition force. Medián and Iránytű clearly consider Tisza to be number one, while Závecz Research and IDEA consider DK’s left-wing alliance to be the leading force by a significant margin. On the other hand, Republikon and Nézőpont measure them at similar levels. All in all, averaging the measurements also suggests that they are matched somewhat evenly: average figures project Tisza to gain 4.4 mandates in the EP, while DK would earn 4.1. Rounding them, both results suggest 4 mandates each.

Translated into percentages, Ferenc Gyurcsány’s DK-led alliance stands at an average of 16.7%, while Tisza is projected at 19.2% (noting that in IDEA’s latest survey, Tisza was not included, so the number of voters for other parties increased from 4% measured in February to 15% In April. We counted this difference towards Tisza). According to the April data, DK could repeat its result from five years ago, while MSZP and Dialogue – even if not sending any representatives to Brussels as they were only allocated the fifth and seventh places on the list – will avoid being exposed for their true level of support.

The following chart shows the expected changes in the number of mandates. You can toggle between March and April using the button at the top-left.

Based on current support data, representatives from five lists could enter the European Parliament: in addition to those mentioned above, the Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP) and Mi Hazánk could each send a politician to the EU legislature. Since 2022, amidst a growing camp of uncertain voters, only Mi Hazánk and MKKP managed to gain significant traction. This trend has also taken a different direction now: none of the two parties benefited from the appearance of Magyar, who challenges the entire political class. MKKP, the former joke party, was measured at an average of 1.5 parliamentary seats a month ago, but April saw these projections drop to 1.0 mandate. All this seems to confirm that the Two-tailed Dog Party received an unexpected 1.7 percentage point increase due to the general anti-party-politics and anti-elitist sentiment following the grace scandal. However, with the current decrease of nearly one and a half percentage points, Gergely Kovács and his party have fallen back to their February level of popularity. In the meantime, the national radicals of Mi Hazánk have weakened even more: by 2.7 percentage points. They can now count on only 0.8 seats on average: whereas the March results suggested that they could send two representatives to Brussels, they may not get a seat at all.

However, from all the parties,

it was Momentum that has suffered the most from Magyar’s meteoric rise. As per the average of April’s surveys, the centrist-liberal party would not make it into the European Parliament.

The March averages suggested 1.8 mandates would be allocated to the list led by Anna Donáth, but this figure dropped to only 0.5 in April. The decrease in percentages is also striking: from 8% to 4.8% in just one month, falling below the threshold for entry, as per the average results. If current dynamics do not change, Momentum could be Péter Magyar’s first casualty.

It’s important to note, however, that most institutes work with a 2-3 per cent margin of error, and the averaging of data can further distort the picture. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that we may have mistakenly assigned swinging mandates to one party or another amidst the political turbulence. Even based on the latest data, it’s still easy to imagine scenarios where Momentum makes it or where Tisza secures five mandates. In these scenarios, Fidesz would have to settle for ten seats as per our mandate-calculator.

The other parties – including Jobbik and LMP currently in parliament, as well as Péter Márki-Zay’s Mindenki Magyarországa and Péter Jakab’s A Nép Pártján – which failed to meet the conditions for candidacy in the EP elections – still struggle to make any significant gains, remaining stagnant at 1-2 per cent.

Made with Flourish

It’s no longer certain that masses of opposition votes will go to waste

At the beginning of the year, it seemed that there could be a record number of votes that wouldn’t translate into mandates. The opposition field was so fragmented that not even doubling the previous record of 295,000 wasted votes seemed impossible. A lot has changed since: a DK-centric left-wing list has been formed, and Tisza has swallowed up right-wing dwarf parties.

According to popularity lists, only 13.6% of votes will not secure any parliamentary seats (five years ago, this was 8.5%), but much depends on whether anyone from the Mi Hazánk-Momentum-MKKP trio – previously considered certain to make it – will fail to surpass the five per cent threshold. If only one makes it with the other two falling slightly short, it would mean roughly half a million lost opposition votes (calculated with participation data from five years ago). However, if all three parties make it to Brussels – as Závecz predicts, among others – then only about 200-250 thousand ballots would be cast in vain. This would be less than five years ago.

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