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MSZP’s Israeli campaign guru is back

December 18th, 2012

A right-wing pundit thinks Hungary must prepare for a bitter electoral campaign in 2014, as Ron Werber, “the professional troublemaker” has been contracted again by the Socialist Party.Ron Werber became famous in the “campaign business” as Israeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin’s campaign manager in 1992. Six years later he offered his services to the Hungarian Socialist Party, but the MSZP, far ahead in the polls, opted for a quiet campaign – and lost. Four years later it contracted Werber and won – reversing an originally losing position.

This is precisely why in her Magyar Nemzet editorial, Ágnes Seszták fears that the next electoral campaign will be ruthless.  She recalls that it was Werber who introduced ‘fanaticism’ into political campaigning in Hungary and who brought negative campaigning to levels unknown until that time. In 2002 the MSZP used a Hungarian-Romanian agreement on free travel and transborder employment to frighten Hungarians into believing that 23 million Romanians would literally invade Hungary’s labour market and welfare system. Distorting a statement by a leading Fidesz official, it spread the news that László Kövér wanted everyone who was dissatisfied with government policies to hang themselves. Seszták also accuses Werber of being the author of the false rumours about PM Viktor Orbán receiving psychiatric treatment. It was also his idea, she writes, to characterise Fidesz as a ‘Fascist party’ and to describe the MSZP as the only hope for democracy. Even that would not been sufficient, she adds, without ‘one last fraud.’ On election day afternoon, Socialist polling committee members phoned through to their centres the names of those who had not cast their ballots. Then the MSZP campaign headquarters compared that list with their own database of probable Socialist voters and sent activists to mobilize the undecided, in a last effort that proved to be decisive. This time, the MSZP has been looking for scandals from the start, Seszták remarks, “but now the copyright holder of the negative campaign is back in person.”

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