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Liberal Commentator Cautions against Gyurcsány

May 13th, 2011

Former Socialist Party chairman and Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány “is not the man capable of resurrecting Hungarian liberalism from the ashes, but is rather one capable of taking the place of and sucking the air from a missing, authentic Hungarian liberal party” – argues Hungary’s number one liberal commentator Sándor Révész in Élet és Irodalom.

The author, the editor of Népszabadság’s opinion page, offered his comments in the left-liberal weekly on Mr Gyurcsány’s ambition to lead a left wing-liberal alliance. The article was written before the Socialist Party leadership and rank and file learned from the right wing daily Magyar Nemzet that Mr Gyurcsány’s friends had registered a new organization called the Democratic Party in February this year. But the author was already aware that the former Prime Minister was contemplating a split within the Socialist Party, in the event that he fails to regain his position as party chairman with a program aimed at co-opting liberal elements that have remained party-less since the collapse of the Alliance of Free Democrats last year. Mr Gyurcsány had spoken about his plans to foreign journalists a few days earlier. In a 9 hour long meeting of Socialist MPs, Mr Gyurcsány allegedly asserted that the majority of the party was behind him and denied charges of wanting to blackmail the party. But it was decided that a party referendum would be held on his initiative on several issues including the election of the party chairman by plebiscite.

Sándor Révész thinks that the referendum will never take place and the initiative is merely a pretext for Gyurcsány to split the party and found a liberal one with as many Socialists as possible. Several well known liberal intellectuals, including economist and ex MP Tamás Bauer, sociologist Mária Vásárhelyi and their “Democratic Charter” movement are openly behind him.

Révész believes that the successor party of the one-time Communist (Hungarian Socialist Workers) Party is fully ripe for implosion, because it is a compound of anti-capitalist and pro-capitalist elements. “The disintegration of this inorganic conglomerate is one of the indispensible preconditions” for the birth of a new liberal party, he asserts.

His problem is that he finds Mr Gyurcsány utterly unfit for the job. “Gyurcsány is a perfect example of the former communist party nomenklatura who got rich by shamelessly plundering public wealth thanks to their network of personal relations inherited from the era of the party-state. And one who confidently boasts of his transactions along a thin line between the law and illegality.”

Révész also thinks Mr Gyurcsány’s performance as Prime Minister from 2004 to 2009 when Hungary’s foreign debt surged from 59 to well over 70 per cent of GDP was pathetic, especially ”in contrast to his high ambitions, swiftly changing successive programmes and promises”.

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