Support for Hungary's ruling Fidesz highest in six years in October: pollster

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Voter support for Hungary’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party rose to its highest since January 2011 at 40 percent according to an opinion poll published on Thursday, less than six months before parliamentary elections due in April 2018.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gestures after a speech in front of the House of Terror during the celebrations of 61th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, in Budapest, Hungary, October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party looks like the runaway favorite to win a third straight term, campaigning with a fierce anti-immigrant message, coupled with increased spending on wage rises and promising more money to pensioners.

Pollster Median said Fidesz’ support rose to 40 percent in October from 36 percent in September, while the main radical nationalist opposition party Jobbik lost some of its support. Jobbik’s support dropped to 11 percent from 12 percent, while the Socialists scored 7 percent in October, the same as in September.

Among decided voters, Fidesz, which won a two-thirds majority in parliament in 2014, was even stronger: its support rose to 61 percent in October from 55 in September, while Jobbik dropped to 14 percent from 16.

Endre Hann, managing director of pollster Median, said Fidesz voters showed an unusual determination and willingness to vote according to their survey conducted between Oct. 20 and 24.

“And also there is kind of a self-fulfilling process: more and more people feel that the opposition does not have any chance (in next year’s election),” he said, adding that the opposition remained fragmented.

The Socialist Party’s candidate to be prime minister after the 2018 parliamentary election resigned last month, further weakening the leftist party. There is an array of other smaller leftist parties all vying for enough votes to get into parliament.

Another pollster, Tarki, said Fidesz’ support rose to 39 percent in October from 35 percent in July in the whole population, while Jobbik’s support dropped to 10 percent from 11 percent.

“The strengthening of the ruling parties is due to some of the uncertain voters choosing them, rather than luring away supporters of opposition parties,” Tarki said.

According to Median, about 30 percent of voters have no party preference. Tarki put the undecided camp at 34 percent.

Reporting by Krisztina Than, Editing by William Maclean