A well-known leftist pundit’s musings on hvg.hu last week have triggered an intense debate about whether a ‘technical’ electoral alliance of opposition parties is on the horizon.
Political entrepreneurs and influential people across the political spectrum are playing with the idea of how a loose coalition of Jobbik, LMP and MSZP could defeat Fidesz in the next parliamentary election, Gáspár Miklós Tamás wrote in an opinion piece on hvg.hu last Tuesday. The leftist thinker did not provide any sources for this information, suggesting rather that this is ‘the buzz around town’, and added that the idea is also ‘massively’ supported by a series of gestures by Jobbik, as it tries to open up to LMP (Politics Can be Different) and MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) voters. Tamás compiles some recent examples of this trend: how Jobbik supports the ‘teachers’ rebellion’ (see BudaPost February 22, 2016), has condemned the way in which ‘far-right skinheads’ prevented the MSZP referendum initiative (see BudaPost February 25, 2016) and urged that a moratorium on evictions be upheld – a moratorium which certainly affects the traditional ‘enemy’ of Jobbik, the Roma, in serious numbers. A short-term cooperation of the moderate left and the far right is not unprecedented in eastern Europe, Miklós Tamás Gáspár notes. In his view, however, such a grand coalition would be a ‘moral catastrophe’ and would totally annihilate the few surviving virtues of the 1990 regime change.
In Népszabadság, Gyula Hegyi, a former Socialist MP and MEP finds that there is a systematic tendency of cross-voting by Jobbik and MSZP supporters in certain poor regions of the country, especially in the ‘rust belt’ around Miskolc where heavy industries have never recovered from the economic slump that followed the fall of Communism in Hungary. The majority of the Jobbik electorate in such areas, the author reckons, consists of people who are frustrated by how former Socialist governments gave up on workers of factories and collective farms which fell victim to the change of political system. It is not a hopeless task for the Socialists to regain the support of these masses, Hegyi suggests, but labelling Jobbik voters as ‘fascists’ would certainly not help this effort.
In another Népszabadság article, a well-known political analyst warns that cross-voting does not always benefit the ‘democratic parties’, and suggests that Jobbik stands to gain most from the situation. Zoltán Lakner, who touches on the rupture of the party system in Slovakia (see BudaPost March 8, 2016) as a possible future political scenario in Hungary, suggests that such a ‘technical alliance’ of opposition parties could be based on an anti-Orbán, anti-corruption, anti-migrant and pro-social security campaign ticket.
Nézőpontok Blog, an opinion site run by Nézőpont Intézet, a Hungarian think tank close to Fidesz, heavily criticized Tamás’s article and called it the latest manifestation of left-liberal ‘Orbanophobia’. Such an ‘idea’ of a technical coalition is not new, Dániel Deák explains, and cites a suggestion by Gergely Karácsony MP (LMP), who promoted such a temporary alliance in 2011 (see BudaPost July 14, 2011). He reminds readers that leftists have no difficulty in changing their views according to their interests, and can envision, only a moment later, a Fidesz-Jobbik coalition. Deák interprets such speculation as a sign that the left and its intellectual farmyard are already preparing for their own defeat in 2018 and are well aware of the fact that the majority of the voters reject their politics. Nevertheless, the electoral alliance postulated by Miklós Gáspár Tamás, the author ponders, would collapse within hours in the midst of the migration crisis, as they would be unable to agree even on the difference between a refugee and an illegal immigrant.
LMP leader András Schiffer refuted Gáspár Miklós Tamás’s talk of the ‘buzz around town’ in a sarcastic post on his Facebook page, adding that ‘all of us can talk nonsense if we want to’.
Former MSZP Chairman Attila Mesterházy, who also reacted on Facebook, called the scheme ludicrously stupid and ended his post with a one-word sentence: ‘Never’.
Finally, on Thursday, Gáspár Miklós Tamás ran a short post on the blog of Dinamó Műhely, a community ‘aiming at renewing left-wing politics in Hungary’, and called Mesterházy’s answer reassuring. Tamás did not acknowledge Schiffer’s response however, and wrote that he was not aware of a clear rebuttal by LMP. He noted however that the case is not settled by even Mesterházy’s response, as the convergence of the left and right-wing parties ‘runs deeper’ than just party politics.