Hungary is on edge because of the all-time high voter turnout at the 2018 general elections. A minute-by-minute report of the funny bits from this elections.
A quick summary: Since February this year, Fidesz’ majority is not so sure. The stakes are high and voters are turning up in record numbers to vote. Can voters deliver a blow to Orbán despite a fragmented opposition?
The day’s news:
- The curious case of evaporating voters: High turnout gave the fright to Fidesz politicians. As seen below, every interim turnout data was record high – up until 18.30, 30 minutes before polls closed. Then 3 hours of news embargo followed. When data started flowing again, participation suddenly decreased from 68.13% (at 18.30) to 67.08 (three hours and thousands of voters later). At some point it even claimed to have gone back down to around 62%. The head of the election office blamed the delegates for over-reporting the voter numbers during the day – by some 87 000 people. On Monday evening, 27 000 voters are still missing to reach the 18.30 levels, even though the turnout doesn’t depend on the counting of the incoming votes from embassies. The head of the election office received a bonus for services rendered – despite the 3-5 hour queues for transfer voters and the unheard-of three-hour news embargo. Orbán secured exactly enough votes for another 2/3 in parliament – he would have been in hot water with anything less.
- The results are better than any polls predicted for Fidesz. Rather than overestimating Fidesz (as polls always do), they have actually underestimated it. It appears that there have been masses of hiding Fidesz voters somewhere – even though hiding your loyalty to the king is the opposite of risky these days. Loudly professed Fidesz-love is almost obligatory.
- At around 70% counted, Fidesz appears to have another 2/3 majority.
- This news embargo is nonsense. We normally have results from the earliest stages of counting. Tonight it will all come at once.
- First bits of information leaked: Fidesz is winning the countryside, opposition Budapest. Both Fidesz and opposition appear pessimistic.
- During the day, 13 000 readers of index.hu, the biggest independent news site have submitted their guesses. Bear in mind that this is how they think others have voted. Looking forward to compare it with actual results – whether they were pessimistic or optimistic.
- This is unusual. Open voting stations never stopped the election committee from publishing partial results. But now – nothing.
- Government spokesman: “Organisations that interfere with politics must be shut down.” The pro-Fidesz media is passing the time with Sorosing and describing the migrant-apocalypse of the West in vivid details. Orbán promised to shut down civil society with his “Stop Soros” law and threatened his “enemies” after the elections.
- In the meantime, remember that this is the most disproportionate election system in Europe, so the next prime minister will be called Orbán. The question is, how low. At this point Fidesz politicians are appearing to play it safe and would be happy with a simple majority. More on the scenarios.
- “Thank you for voting!”
- “At 11:55 a voter stumbled in the voting booth, the booth collapsed. No change occurred in the voter’s health status, s/he felt well.” An election committee member accidentally perfected the flash fiction genre. (Apologies, I am bored and browsing the event register of the election committee.) No results before 10PM
- A silly reporter of the public broadcaster thought it was a good idea to make a live report from the queue in London. But he went too close. One bored citizen spotted them and placed a rare anti-Fidesz message on public media: “You have hours left, Orbán!“
- No exit polls – no one dares to make predictions. I am so happy I am not one of the “experts” in a TV studio. They have nothing to work with…
- 68.13% by 18.30 – no final results until the last vote is cast (i.e. not before 10PM)
- Voting closed at 7PM but people already in line can vote. It might take hours given the mile-long queues in certain districts. Some swing districts might not see final results until the votes are counted abroad.
- A surprising number of voters find out that they have been registered as ethnic minorities – without their knowledge. The National Election Office’s event register has multiple such reports. These voters are not allowed to vote on the national list.
- In Budapest’s 7th district an opposition candidate recorded as voters were paid for voting for Fidesz. They only had to prove it with a photo of the voting sheet. He reported the incident to the police, suspects are held.
- Over 200 000 people registered to vote away from their home (but inside the country) by the deadline. Their queues are the longest – and many find out on the spot that their registration wasn’t processed on time (despite submitting before the deadline)
- 63.21% by 17.00
- People spotted motorcades of emergency police vans approaching Budapest from every direction. Probably nothing but it made some people nervous – and that is telling. UPDATE: Police said the motorcades were not related to the elections.
- 54% turnout by 15.00
- Curious mistakes: The withdrawal of the many opposition candidates to present a unified candidate against Fidesz’ was the hot topic of the last weeks before elections. Yet, even when they did so, sometimes the election committee failed to cross out their names from the ballot sheets. Curiously, in a swing districts.
- Attempted fraud spotted: To demonstrate that an autocrat doesn’t have to be everywhere and exert his will directly – even his remote minions do their part uncalled for. And sometimes stupidly. When an opposition voter turned up in his party’s T-shirt, a Fidesz-representative handed him an un-stamped ballot sheet. He actually pretended to stamp it, but purposely did not.
- A large number of people who vote from abroad (expats in western Europe) did not receive their ballot sheet in time to be able to return it via post.
- The day before the elections, the newsreaders and celebrities tied to a Fidesz-controlled commercial TV channel announced they would go and vote for Orbán. Their independent counterpart reacted by calling people to vote but refraining from party affiliations “because I’m a newsreader, it would be terribly inappropriate“.
- Fidesz also controls every print and online paper. Their front page on the day of the elections looked identical:
- Famous pets have also joined in
This post is updated regularly until the final results are in.