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Gyurcsány is no option for centrists

November 8th, 2011

A conservative liberal political analyst finds it highly unlikely that former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s new party will attract moderate conservatives disappointed by the current centre-right coalition.

Hungarians labelled as conservative liberals may have a moderate conservative worldview, but their partisan affiliations are, nevertheless, to the left,” political analyst Gábor Török suggests.

Török finds it rather unlikely that new political formations led by prominent left-wing figures could attract moderate right-wing voters who are disillusioned with Fidesz. Party preferences in Hungary are determined not by content, but rather by symbolic politics, which precludes that a party with a conservative agenda headed by politicians with a left-wing past could gain support from self-identified right-wingers, Török contends.

The Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) lost even the remnants of its conservative image when it chose Lajos Bokros, a former Socialist Minister of Finance as its candidate for prime minister. Török suggests that the same fate may await Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition, in its quest to attract votes not only from liberals but also from moderate conservatives, by choosing József Debreczeni as a vice-president. József Debreczeni started his political career as an MP of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, then served as an advisor to Viktor Orbán. After turning against Orbán, he became a supporter of Ferenc Gyurcsány in 2006. In the 2010 parliamentary elections he ran for a seat in Parliament as a candidate of the “new”, liberal MDF.

None of this implies that no credible right-wing challenger can emerge to oppose Fidesz, Török adds. Opinion polls suggest that many Fidesz voters would now stay away from the ballot box, while others would probably support the radical rightist party Jobbik. It is also possible that a new political formation led by a credible right-wing politician will emerge, which could further challenge Fidesz’s dominance on the right.

Török contends that Fidesz should even encourage the emergence of such a centrist party led by moderate conservatives. This could help to enlist disillusioned Fidesz voters who might otherwise drift either to Jobbik or to the left, Török believes.

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