Hungary’s 2024 Elections: Poll of Experts

Election forecast and situation analysis

By István Benedek, Samu Märcz, Áron J. Szászi

In Hungary, two elections are scheduled for June 9, 2024, where voters will simultaneously elect members of the European Parliament and municipal representatives. The ongoing political season has been marked by turmoil and unprecedented events. The February paedophilia scandal not only led to the resignation of President Novák but also significantly undermined public support for Fidesz. Former Fidesz insider Péter Magyar, ex-husband of former Justice Minister Varga (who also resigned due to the scandal), capitalised on the situation by launching a public attack against Fidesz and establishing his new TISZA party. The distribution of Hungarian MEP seats between parties is highly uncertain, primarily due to the rapid pace of political developments and the fragmentation of the opposition landscape. The Budapest office of Grayling has engaged experts of Hungarian politics to produce this forecast and situation analysis to help navigate our clients and partners through the turbulent political environment.


Our analysis and forecast are informed by insights from Hungary’s leading political analysts, pollsters, and social scientists. We distributed our questionnaire to experts with diverse political affiliations and backgrounds. It is important to highlight that this study does not provide an objective measure of the popularity of different parties, but it is the aggregation of subjective evaluations of experts of Hungarian politics. 15 experts of Hungarian politics shared their expectations and gave us interpretations of the events that led to this exciting campaign season. Our survey was completed by experts of 7 think tank, academics of 4 institutions and 2 political journalists. Invited experts completed our questionnaire between May 7 and May 13.

European elections

Our experts expect all Hungarian parties and coalitions to lose MEP seats, except to the newly emerged TISZA party of Péter Magyar. Based on the median forecast, the governing Fidesz-KDNP is expected to lose 3 of their seats, sending 10 representatives to the European Parliament. TISZA is expected to gain 6 seats, becoming the strongest force in the opposition camp. It is worth highlighting that half of our respondents expect TISZA to significantly transform the Hungarian party system, with many viewing it as a new dominant opposition party and a potential challenger to Fidesz.

Median expert opinion suggest that the joint list of Democratic Coalition, Hungarian Socialist Party, and Dialogue will only have three representatives in the European Parliament. That would be two fewer seats than these parties were able  to win in the last European elections. The satiric Two-Tailed Dog Party and the far-right and hard Eurosceptic Our Homeland are expected to be elected to the European Parliament for the first time. Median expert opinion forecasts 1 seat for each party. In contrast, the majority of surveyed experts expects the liberal Momentum and the right-wing Jobbik to lose their MEP seats. Out of the 15 experts, only two expected Momentum to win at least one seat, while none expected Jobbik to get above the 5% threshold.  Only one expert expected that LMP will get elected to the EP. A third of the respondents (5 experts) based their expectations on opinion polls.

Grayling local experts’ view

Although inflation in Hungary has been below 4% since January, the economic recovery is slower than expected. The government revised its GDP growth forecast from 3.6% to 2.5%, changed its budget deficit target from 2.9% to 4.5% and postponed public investment of HUF 675 billion. Consumer prices has increased by 42% since the last election (food prices increased by 67%)2. The EP elections will be a test of whether Fidesz will be able to held its position amidst a cost-of-living crisis without the electoral welfare measures that were previously enabled by access to EU funds. These financial difficulties together with the moral upheaval triggered by the paedophilia scandal and kept on the surface by Péter Magyar’s “insider allegations” carry dangerous electoral consequences for Fidesz.

The most important question regarding the European election for the Hungarian political system is whether a systemic opposition will emerge that can credibly challenge not only the Orbán government but also its opposition in the eyes of the electorate. With this development, the dominant governing party vs. the fragmented opposition could be replaced by a two-block political system, similar to that of the 2000s, by the time of the 2026 parliamentary elections. This would be extremely risky for the stability of the current political system.

Fidesz responded by aiming to keep the opposition fragmented, appealing to the survival of the old left, primarily the Democratic Coalition, alongside the new, dynamic TISZA party. On the other hand, if Péter Magyar’s new TISZA party wins at least 5-6 EP seats in the elections, while other opposition forces do not win more than 1-2 seats, it could function as a gravitational force after the elections, which could transform the party system into a bipolar one with TISZA as the main challenger, clearing the opposition field. Both scenarios are currently possible and much depends on the rest of the campaign. However, a new era for the political system will begin after 9 June, and the direction and extent of real change will only become clear in the spring of 2026.

Municipal elections

The expert opinion on the Budapest mayoral race is almost unanimous. 11 respondent expects the incumbent Gergely Karácsony to get re-elected, while only 3 people chose his third-party challenger, Dávid Vitézy to succeed. No one expected the Fidesz candidate, Alexandra Szentkirályi to win the race. Two analysts who expect Dávid Vitézy to win also expect Alexandra Szentkirályi to drop out of the race.

We also asked experts to choose which “cities with county rights” they expect to host competitive races. About two thirds of our respondents considered the cities of Eger, Miskolc, Győr and Szolnok to be competitive races in the municipal elections. About half of the experts expected tight races in Tatabánya, Nyíregyháza and Hódmezővásárhely, while third of them thought similarly about Szekszárd and Baja. In the 2019 municipal elections, only 7 cities (with county rights) saw close races, where the difference between the top two mayoral candidates were below 5%. Experts’ answers show that the general expectation is a rematch in these cities between the opposition and Fidesz. Miskolc and Hódmezővásárhely are two cities where the opposition could easily win 5 years ago, but a tight race is expected this time. In the latter city, Péter Márki-Zay, the joint opposition’s former PM candidate, is once again running  for re-election as the incumbent mayor.

Grayling local experts’ view

On one hand, the EP election may drive the Hungarian party system toward simplification and lead to the dissolution of several parties, mainly in the centre and the right-wing of the opposition. On the other hand, the municipal elections can be a means of survival for several political formations. Dávid Vitézy’s nomination for Budapest mayor strengthens the green LMP’s position in the capital. The liberal Momentum may also be present in the Budapest city council and other larger municipalities, and get its popular mayor re-elected in the 6th district of Budapest. For the Dog Party, the 12th district could be a major breakthrough if the party’s president manages to win the local mayoral race.

The expected instability in the governance of Budapest results from Fidesz’s recent electoral reform making the voting for representatives to the city council proportional. Although the re-election of Mayor Karácsony is almost certain, the left-wing coalition behind the mayor and his allies are unlikely to get a majority in the City Council. Besides Fidesz, representatives of LMP and TISZA will form a counterbalance. Internal divisions and the intensification of “real politics” in Budapest could further disillusion opposition voters. At the same time, if the city administration can successfully manage this division, it could serve as an example of the opposition’s ability to govern for voters ahead of the 2026 elections.

Péter Magyar’s successful campaign tour shed light on the high level of dissatisfaction with the government in provincial towns and rural Hungary, highlighting the vacuum in opposition politics in areas where the opposition has either given up or been unable to allocate resources. If the opposition can capitalise on the current wave of dissatisfaction and takes over several Fidesz-led municipalities, it can drastically change the political mood in Hungary. While the governing parties might be able to downplay the loss of a few MEP seats, losing significant mayoral positions at the same time would present a greater challenge.