November 26, 2014 / 4:23 PM / 3 years ago

Hungary's ruling party down in polls over Web tax, quarrels with West

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Public support for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party fell sharply in November, a survey showed on Wednesday, hit by a plan to tax Internet use that it later dropped and by disputes with Western powers.

A woman carries a placard with the likeness of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban as thousands of Hungarians protest against perceived corruption at the country's tax authority and lack of wider democratic freedoms, in Budapest, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

The survey by pollster Tarki put support for Fidesz at 25 percent, down by a third from 37 percent in October.

The far-right Jobbik and liberal LMP parties each gained one percentage point, to 12 percent and 3 percent, respectively, while the ranks of the undecided jumped 10 points to 44 percent.

A Tarki researcher told Reuters the scale of the plunge in the support for a ruling party was unusual.

“Domestic and foreign conflicts have reached a level that many people could not ignore further,” Endre Sik said. “The proposed Internet tax had hit a nerve, compounding clashes with the Norwegians and especially the U.S.”

Orban scrapped a proposal to tax Internet use from next year after it triggered a mass protest in Budapest.

His cabinet also argued with Norway over funds given to non-government organizations, while the United States has banned six Hungarians, including the head of Hungary’s tax authority, from entry over alleged corruption charges.

Sik compared the latest poll results for Orban’s party to the sharp drop in support for Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in 2006 after the leak of a tape on which he admitted lying to get re-elected.

Another survey by pollster Ipsos this month showed public support for Fidesz had fallen by 5 percentage points to 30 percent.

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Jane Baird

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