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Gordon Bajnai opens his campaign to mixed reviews

February 12th, 2013

A left-wing and a centrist pundit say Bajnai has finally put an end to the speculation and acknowledged his intention to lead his new party in the next elections. But they find his messages confused and off-putting for potential voters.

Last week leaders of Together-2014 announced that the umbrella organization, originally formed to integrate the left-wing opposition, would form an independent party within the next few months. On Saturday Bajnai held a campaign kick-off with a speech “on the state of the country” (a tradition first introduced by Viktor Orbán).

Véleményvezér says Bajnai’s strategy is to secure the backing of voters on the left and then reach out to center-right constituencies. The author found the speech ’good and energetic’, noting that the message about ’a coalition of hope’ was meant to be a first step towards regaining Together-2014’s lost momentum. On the other hand, Bajnai seems to be engaged in a contest with Attila Mesterházy, leader of the MSZP, and ’bogged down in an American-style pre-election campaign’. At his rally, notes Véleményvezér, ‘the first rows were filled’ with well-known representatives of the former Socialist and liberal elites: Bajnai might be fighting so hard for a core constituency on the left that he will end up alienating center-right voters, essential to his political strategy.

Népszabadság, on the other hand, found the rally lacklustre, the only meaningful message being Bajnai’s contention that there are one million voters who would never vote for the MSZP but without whom there is no hope of winning the elections. Commentator Róbert Friss says Bajnai’s message might put off Socialists who think, correctly, that the MSZP has a solid background while Bajnai’s movement has so far remained ’a hope’ which is yet to materialise. There are also people who ’do not want to understand’ that established political divides have to be overcome. At the same time, Civic Alliance, a Fidesz-friendly movement that organizes ’Peace Walks’, never tires repeating that ’Orbán represents angelic values, while Bajnai is the devil.’ Under these circumstances it is not easy to attract center-right voters but this is exactly what they have to achieve, he concludes.

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