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It’s getting hotter

June 11th, 2011

Political tensions within the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) have become ever more visible in the last few days. “The party has set out on the road of political self-mutilation” suggests political analyst Gábor Török in his blog. Should the Socialists split, he concludes, the real winner would be the governing conservative party, Fidesz.

Gábor Török says that there are two fundamental reasons behind the unity of Hungarian political forces: the parliamentary election system and party financing. “The first rule is that it’s more comfortable and rewarding to play the role of an internal opposition waiting for its chance, than to play the card of splitting or founding a new party” – writes Török, who recalls that only István Csurka (former member of the governing Hungarian Democratic Forum, 1990-94) was able to return to parliament as leader of a new political formation after leaving his original party.

The Socialists’ biggest problem is that former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány is a huge weight around their necks but “they probably know that their own political skills pale into insignificance beside his.”

On the other hand Gyurcsány may not be averse to “leaving the sinking ship (and its uneasy passengers), but he must also realise that without the MSZP’s infrastructure, resources and base he would find himself in an extremely difficult situation.”

So this seemingly irrational battle is based on very logical personal considerations and that makes an open clash inevitable – Gábor Török notes in his blog.

At the Socialist Party congress scheduled for June 18, party delegates may ask Ferenc Gyurcsány and his followers to leave the MSZP” – Magyar Hírlap learned from Socialist sources. György Földes, director of the Institute of Political History, a Socialist think tank, confirmed to the daily that the possibility of a party split was discussed during the talks of the Socialist Program Council, an informal strategic planning roundtable of Socialist politicians and left-wing intellectuals. According to Földes, a divorce could possibly “clear the air” and after the split the Socialists could “focus on the future instead of prolonging past debates and trying to keep rival factions at bay”.

A new scandal has erupted in the Socialist Party” – suggests the tabloid Bors. Tibor Szanyi, member of the board of MSZP, in a Facebook entry suggests that  Gyurcsány himself leaked the recording of his infamous speech at the meeting of Socialist MPs behind closed doors in May 2006. In the speech, just one month after their April 2006 election victory, Gyurcsány acknowledged that the Socialists had achieved next to nothing in the previous four years in power, and had lied (“morning, evening and night”) to secure re-election. In September 2006, after the recording was made public, anti-government riots broke out in Budapest and other cities.

Though he has no direct evidence, Szanyi claims that he has “put together the pieces” and is convinced that with the leak, Gyurcsány wanted to shake up the Socialist parliamentary group and to overcome resistance to the unpopular structural reforms he proposed.

“I do not believe Gyurcsány personally leaked the recording” – Attila Juhász told Blikk. The analyst of Political Capital thinks that the scandal around the leak is just another battle in a “rough internal party war”.

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