The Hungarian national-conservative opposition party Our Homeland has become the most popular political force in the 18-29 age group, a recent Coninver poll shows. The party entered parliament for the first time only a year ago, yet among the youth, its popularity not only surpassed that of all liberal opposition parties, but of the governing Fidesz as well.
Our Homeland (Mi Hazánk Mozgalom, MHM) is regularly described as far-right or even extreme-right, even though the party wouldn’t subscribe to the traditional left-right dichotomy. Rather, it defines itself as a ‘third way’ political movement. It is true, nonetheless, that—based on conventional thinking—Our Homeland is the only opposition party in the Hungarian parliament that can be positioned right of Fidesz.
Given how the party is being treated as only a fringe faction of radicals in everyday public discourse, the result of the poll came as a shock for many, much like the Swedish Democrats’ spectacular election victory last year. In line with wider European trends, perhaps this signals that—while the establishment wasn’t watching—political parties that were formerly believed to be too extreme by most to even participate in politics have begun to move toward a more mainstream, acceptable position and thus appeal to broader masses, especially capturing the youth.
Voting preference among certain voters aged 18-19 in Hungary, February 2023
For one, Our Homeland’s meteoric rise does seem to testify to such a shift. The party was founded in 2018 as a split faction of Jobbik, a former extreme-right party that since appears to be moving toward the center-left. In the 2019 European Parliamentary election, Our Homeland received less than 3.3%, but still more than most analysts anticipated. Three years later, however—and contrary to all expectations—the party was able to cross the parliamentary threshold with 6.45%, resulting in six seats in the Hungarian legislation.
But the 2022 election was only the beginning for the party, as subsequent polls showed that Our Homeland’s popularity began to rise sharply after it entered parliament. In May 2022, one poll revealed that in less than two months, Our Homeland became the most popular opposition party in all combined age groups at 9%, followed by social-democrat DK (8%) and the progressive Momentum (7%). Fidesz, the country’s center-right governing party was still ahead by a significant margin, polling at 57% at the time.
According to all combined polls, Fidesz currently stands at 49%, so neither Our Homeland nor others pose any risk to it in the near future. But if we look only at the 18-29 age group, the governing party suddenly falls to third place with only 18%, while Momentum has 19% and Our Homeland leads the chart with 22%.
Politically, Fidesz and Our Homeland are not too different. Both are national-conservative, Christian-oriented, and sovereigntist. Both have strong opinions about mass immigration, LGBT issues, globalism, and European integration. Nonetheless, there is one thing that makes Our Homeland more appealing to the youth: being in opposition.
It is no surprise the government is not particularly popular among people who usually just want change, above everything else. But contrary to many Western countries, the Hungarian youth seems to imagine that change coming from the Right instead of the Left. Although the next election is still three years away and there is not much chance of Fidesz losing it, in the meantime, Our Homeland will be a party to pay attention to.