Hungary’s ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat coalition has lost its parliamentary “supermajority” Sunday following the defeat of its candidate in a by-election in the town of Veszprém.
According to the National Election Office, independent candidate Zoltán Kész defeated Fidesz’s Lajos Némedi by 42.66% percent to 33.64%.
An entrepreneur and advocate for free-market economics, Kész nonetheless ran with strong backing from the country’s major left-wing parties.
Trailing the two were Andrea Varga-Damm of the radical-nationalist party Jobbik with 14.14%, Ferenc Gerstmár of the green party LMP – which had declined to get behind Kész, citing his neoliberal economic beliefs – with 4.57%, and Ferenc Bősze, an independent who received 2.75% of the votes cast.
The defeat means the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s no longer has the two-thirds supermajority it has enjoyed since the 2010 elections, which have given it the power to pass legislation and enact constitutional changes without opposition votes.
“The voters expect me to be a real critic of the ones in power,” Kész said following news of his victory. “I promise I will deliver that. We have got the strength to change the power.”
The seat was left open when Tibor Navracsics, a leading figure in the governing party, was named European Union commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
The result ran contrary to the single poll made public before the vote, which showed Fidesz enjoying a slight lead.
The government has downplayed the election’s importance, arguing that it no longer has any need for a super-majority, having already made all the major changes it has planned.
Nevertheless, the result has significance given the ongoing slide in the government’s popularity in recent months.
The government faces a similar test in April, when another by-election will be held to fill the seat of Jenő Lasztovicza, a Fidesz MP representing a seat in Veszprém County who died last month.