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Rebranding the Socialists

February 16th, 2012

A pro-government commentator believes that in contrast to the previous Socialist governments, which followed neo-liberal principles and bowed to international investors, PM Orbán’s main aim is to strengthen the Hungarian middle class. According to a centrist analyst, the Socialists will have no option but to try and solicit the support of the working class.

While in Europe both left and right-wing parties focus on the interests of the middle classes, the Hungarian Socialist-Liberal coalition governments between 2002 and 2010 yielded to the power of international investors, Mihály Szalontai writes in Magyar Hírlap. According to the pro-government columnist, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in his state of the nation address made a strong commitment to protect the middle classes (see BudaPost February 9), while he also acknowledged the need for foreign investment. Along the lines of the consensus reached at the late January Davos World Economic Forum, the Orbán government actively intervenes in the economy to ensure the advancement of the middle classes, Szalontai contends.

Analyst Gábor Török ponders how the Socialists can react to the government’s increasingly pro-middle class policy. The MSZP will have little option but to send more radical left-wing messages in order to solicit the votes of the lower classes, who do not benefit from the Orbán government’s policies. It is, however, highly uncertain whether the Socialists will succeed in rebranding themselves as a classic social democratic party, representing the poor, since this would require a complete revision of their rather pro-market image and rhetoric, Török remarks.

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