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Bajnai back on the pitch

January 11th, 2012

Népszabadság welcomes former Prime Minister Bajnai’s re-entry into the political arena, although the last left-wing premier has not yet made it clear whether he would be ready to lead an anti-government coalition.

Gordon Bajnai served in Ferenc Gyurcsány’s government as the man in charge of development funds from 2006 to 2007 and then for another two years as Minister of Local Councils first and then of Economy and Development. When Mr Gyurcsány resigned in the wake of the financial crisis, Mr Bajnai took over as head of a caretaker government and implemented the expenditure cuts agreed upon with the EU and the IMF. Since the right-wing electoral victory in 2010, he has withdrawn from politics but is widely considered as the potential head of a Hungarian version of the one-time Italian Olive Tree Coalition, which united disparate left-wing forces under Professor Romano Prodi (See BudaPosst, October 11, 2011).  His “Haza és Haladás” (Country and Progress) Foundation has published several studies criticising the policies of the right-wing government, but on Monday Bajnai came forward with his own opinion. He said a change of government would be imperative as soon as possible, but this would only be possible if the divergent elements of what he calls the “democratic opposition” can find a way to combine forces.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság believes some elements of Bajnai’s diagnosis must be extremely painful for the now governing right-wing forces, including his statement that the right wing “has broken the backbone of democracy, vertebra by vertebra”. Bajnai is conscious of the weakness of today’s opposition, Népszabadság continues, nevertheless finds it indispensable to raise his voice, “as the trouble is too great”. The left-wing daily thinks Bajnai has shown the way out of the present crisis, although without making clear what he himself intends to do. “But perhaps he no longer minds being asked that question.”