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Is the left to remain fragmented?

September 24th, 2012

Analysts doubt that the opposition to the left of Fidesz can run in a united block at the parliamentary elections in 2014, although under the new electoral system separate forces will only have a very feeble chance of gaining a parliamentary majority.

In Népszabadság, Róbert Friss calls the prospect of an election with only two opposing blocks, as forecast by the Socialist Party, “a nightmare”. In its strategic document 20 months before the elections, the Socialist Party declares that it has to be ready to defeat the governing right wing on its own, but Friss does not believe it can make it. If there were only two camps, then the Socialist party should be by far the most popular party in Hungary by now, since Fidesz has lost much of its initial voting base. The left-wing commentator suggests that instead of relying on their own constituency, the Socialists should rather work on building alliances with other forces who could hopefully mobilise new segments of the now passive majority.

In Magyar Nemzet, Ágnes Seszták finds that the main novelty in the Socialist Party strategy is a “left-wing turn”, which means that from now on Socialist politicians will demand higher wages, better public services, lower taxes – all things that sound pleasant, but which would ruin the country if introduced.  She believes the Socialists will in the near future pay less attention to their fears for democracy, will not concentrate on their criticism of the new Constitution and will not insist on branding their adversaries as “fascist”, for these things are too complicated for the people they want to win over. The right-wing columnist doubts however if party chairman Attila Mesterházy possesses the charisma necessary to win the elections. As for their possible allies, she suggests that the LMP might shrink from allying itself with the Socialists “for fear of being swallowed by them.”

Political scientist Gábor Török also finds it increasingly improbable that the LMP and MSZP will run hand in hand at the elections in 2014, although left-wing opinion leaders keep the green party under constant pressure to do so. For a long time he thought divergences between the two parties were no deeper than those between the liberal SZDSZ party and the Socialists 20 years ago. As it turned out, SZDSZ only used those differences as bargaining tools in its deals with the Socialists, and in critical situations sided invariably with the MSZP. As Török sees it, the main LMP leaders have more serious reservations towards the MSZP than that.  Their anti-Fidesz feelings do not overwrite their differences with the MSZP, at least not for the moment. On the other hand, it is unclear whether or not they command an electorate that is ready to follow them along this path. The latest Ipsos opinion poll shows them losing two thirds of their support in a single month. If the LMP cannot reverse this trend, then electoral constraints, and pressure from left-wing opinion leaders might make them cave in, whatever their intentions may be at present, the popular analyst concludes.

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