Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

What is left on the left?

October 13th, 2011

Pundits across the political spectrum have recently been preoccupied with the question whether a broad coalition on the left could successfully replace Fidesz at the next election. Left-wing commentators warn that electoral success alone would not amount to victory, since a too broad anti-Orbán alliance without a clear vision would not be able govern the country.

Why the hell would I join democrats who are going in different directions?”, asks Sándor Révész in 168 Óra.

In last weeks’ issue of the weekly, editor-in-chief Ákos Mester suggested that a broad left-wing alliance of NGOs, trade unions, pensioners, university students, the unemployed and other groups that are unsatisfied with the current government could successfully challenge Fidesz at the next election. Rumours about a possible “Olive Tree Coalition” of left-wing parties have also been in the news (see BudaPost October 10).

Révész is highly sceptical about the possibility that left-wing parties could or should form a broad coalition. Even if such a diverse anti-Orbán alliance could secure victory at the next election, it seems unlikely that they would also be able to rule the country. “The broad coalition outlined by Ákos Mester lacks a coherent vision, and as such, it could not govern.”

Without a clear program, a left-wing coalition held together only by its opposition to Fidesz would prove a short lived alliance, Révész suggests. As the example of the Socialists clearly shows, an alliance of pro-market liberals and anti-capitalist lefties cannot in the long run be successful. “It is not worth defeating Fidesz in 2014 if it comes back, inevitably, in 2018.”

The left means Ferenc Gyurcsány and his Öszöd speech, … the pensioners’ 19,000 forints,  and János Zuschlag, who is currently serving a prison sentence” adds Péter Pető in Népszabadság.

Pető also thinks that the left-wing parties offer no coherent message other than their willingness to replace Fidesz. In order to strengthen their support, they should first bridge the gap between the progressive groups willing to offer a modern vision of the welfare state on the one hand, and “retrograde dreamers of free education, free health care, free public transport and unlimited social welfare” on the other.

This, however, will not be easy, Pető contends. The left-wing parties are unable to offer their supporters a civic culture they could identify with (see BudaPost, September 13), and in a highly irrational public sphere dominated by celebrities, there is no room left for reasonable in-depth discussions of political ideology. Solidarity with the down-and-outs is the only message that could hold left-wingers together – Népszabadság’s columnist suggests.

Tags: , , , , ,