Election 2018

Without ‘tactical voting’, Orban’s party would control 3/4 of seats in Parliament

‘Tactical voting’ was one of the buzzwords in Hungary in the weeks before this year’s election. It meant that several opposition forces and organizations suggested to voters that they should be ‘tactical’ when deciding how to cast their two votes on April 9. Atlatszo investigated whether tactical voting had an effect on the election result. The conclusion: opposition forces secured 15 seats in Parliament with the help of ‘tactical’ voters.

Opposition parties and organisations came up with the idea of tactical voting because in the Hungarian election system 106 parliamentary seats are distributed in individual constituencies and 93 are assigned based on votes cast for national party lists. The 106 seats in individual constituencies are won by the candidates in a first-past-the-post system.

This is a disadvantage for a fragmented opposition and means that they have the best chance to beat the strong Fidesz candidate if they unite behind one candidate. Opposition parties did not manage to coordinate in most constituencies and in many districts several opposition candidates were running against the Fidesz candidate.

This is why several organizations encouraged tactical voting, telling people to vote for the list of their favourite party but vote for the candidate who has the best chance to beat the Fidesz candidate.

To see if tactical voting had any effect on the results, first we look at what the results would have been if votes cast for individual candidates were the same as votes cast for national party lists.

When voting for individual candidates, personality matters: locally popular candidates might do better than their party in certain districts while others might do much worse than their parties.

In 2014 the difference between votes cast for a party’s list and a party’s individual candidates was not higher than 30,000 votes for any party. In 2018, the difference was much higher than that for six opposition parties.

Jobbik’s candidates, for example, got 180,000 more votes than the party list in 2018. A few other parties (DK, Együtt and Fidesz) were in the same situation.

There were parties that experience the opposite: green LMP, left-wing MSZP and joke party MKKP all received more votes for their party lists than their individual candidates. LMP’s list got 80,000 more votes than its candidates.

In 2014 the difference between votes cast for the candidates and votes cast for the parties was not higher than 10% for any party. In 2018, the difference was close to 60% for Momentum, MKKP and Együtt. For DK, Jobbik and LMP the difference was close to 20%.

This shows that the ‘tactical voting’ affected 10% of all votes cast.

Next, Atlaszto looked at how it affected the distribution of parliamentary seats. To see what would have happened without tactical voting, we estimated what would have happened if candidates got the same amount of votes as their parties.

After re-calculating the votes cast for individual candidates and adjusting the results accordingly, we saw that without tactical voting, Fidesz would have won 148 seats. Fidesz won 133 seats on April 9, that is to say that tactical voting cost Fidesz 15 seats.

Here is a breakdown of the actual results and our estimate of the distribution of parliamentary seats if voters hadnot used ‘tactical’ voting.



Written by Péter Gerner

English version by Anita Kőműves, editing by Clare Humphreys.

You can read the original, Hungarian language article with the detailed methodology here.

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