We simply do not know – and this is why:
The last opinion polls before the election give Orbán 39% and the opposition 36% among the decided voters at an unheard-of 80% participation rate and with a suspiciously high proportion of allegedly undecided voters.
39-36 would give a massive majority to Orbán. Another pollster, Medián, estimated a 128-71 win for Orbán in terms of mandates based on similar results. The spectacular difference between percentage of votes and the resulting mandates is due to the election law that gives a massive boost to the winner, as long as it is a party like Fidesz.
There are two things that can swing the results in a major way.
- Election fraud by the government
- Masses of hiding opposition voters
Fraud can be expected in a million different forms. Some institutionalized and legalized in the election law like election funding or Fidesz-optimized procedures. Others types of fraud will be conducted on election day in a million little ways. We know they are preparing for it.
Hiding voters are more likely in political systems where dissent is institutionally punished – such as this autocracy. There have been two recent instances when hiding voter preferences were crucial:
- Before the 2019 municipal elections pollsters measured a massive lead for the incumbent Fidesz mayor. The same pollster I quoted in the title (Závecz Research, independent) measured a 38-33% lead for the incumbent before the mayoral election – and yet the challenger won by 7%. And that is Budapest where opposition views are the least stigmatized. A hundred thousand people who didn’t vote in 2015 have turned up in 2019 (out of around 1.3 million registered voters) and more voted for Karácsony than Fidesz’ candidate.
- A mayoral byelection in February 2018 in a historic Fidesz stronghold had a similar surprise. At record turnout, an independent candidate (supported by all opposition parties) beat the Fidesz candidate running for mayor by 57.49% of the votes against 41.63% for Fidesz. Opinion polls did not predict triumph for the opposition – let alone by 16%. Thousands of voters showed up who never voted before, who didn’t indicate that they were planning to, and they all voted for the opposition candidate, silently.
By the way, the mayor that won that day is the leader of the united opposition for the general elections on Sunday.
Both elections took place at a record turnout. And the expected turnout according to present research: an all-time absolute high of 80%.
That would be bad news for Orbán, but remember the 2018 general elections. After an actual all-time record participation polls were closed and there was a three-hour unexplained news moratorium on partial results as masses were still queuing in various districts. Then the participation rate as corrected downward and Orbán reemerged triumphantly. Everyone expected that he would lose his precious supermajority. Instead, he gave himself another one.
It opened the way to another flurry of legislation, including new changes to the constitution and outsourcing all state wealth into crony hands – legally and without any payment.
Orbán has learned that winning is very rewarding while losing is worse than death. Now it may even entail him being prosecuted. On the other hand, nothing happens to him if he cheats. If he announces another win on election day even those who hate him would break down and shut up. So no downside, huge reward for cheating. The worst possible lessons for a bully.